Interacting with people in mental distress
What you do as a police officer makes a difference. That is what Kites Trust in
The NZ Police Mental Health Intervention Team approached Kites in 2014 wanting to review
the way police interact with people in mental distress. Kites’ Tane Rangihuna and Amanda
Luckman took the lead on a pilot programme of workshops to train NZ Police recruits in
the right ways to respond.
“We want to make a difference to how these interactions work for people in distress, and
equip police with the knowledge and tools they need for this to happen,” they say.
“We are excited to be working with the NZ Police because of the influence they have in
society and the sometimes negative interactions between police and people in mental
Positive response makes work rewarding
The tenacious twosome bring unique experience to the project.
Tane has worked in the mental health sector since 2009 primarily on Like Minds, Like Mine
projects like this one. He says his strong Māori upbringing and his kids are the main
two influences in his life and affect the way he looks at projects like this.
“I get a great deal of satisfaction out of knowing we are helping to create more
inclusive communities and raising awareness around the negative impacts that stigma and
discrimination has,” he says.
Amanda not only draws on her lived experience of distress and recovery, but also her nine
years experience in mental health as a peer support worker, service manager, consumer
advisor, workplace trainer and peer supervisor.
“I find it hugely rewarding to work on anti-discrimination projects such as this,” she
says. “The recruits respond so well to the workshops, and the NZ Police are so willing
to work in partnership with us, that it makes the project a real pleasure to work on.”
Training model helps end discrimination
Knowing how important the power of contact is, Tane and Amanda draw on their “First
Voices” team, who co-facilitate the workshops and share their lived experience of mental
distress with the recruits.
There is also an existing pamphlet that summarises the training, and will be developed
further as the project progresses.
Kites vision is to end discrimination towards those experiencing mental distress, so Tane
and Amanda would love to see this training and partnership model transferred across many
other organisations, such as the Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income) staff
and healthcare professionals.
“In the meantime, we hope the success of our project will ultimately lead to improved
statistics and a positive change to how police officers interact with people
experiencing mental distress in the next Independent Police Complaints Authority
report,” Tane and Amanda say.
This story is about one of the
Like Minds, Like Mine Community Partnership Fund recipients