EVERY police van in North Yorkshire is to display the Samaritans‘ contact details to help spread the message of mental health support.

The vans are used for patrols in all districts of North Yorkshire and to respond to incidents, many of which are mental health-related.

An estimated 40 per cent of calls to police involve some kind of mental health issue. In the last six months, the force has received 9,230 phone calls which involved this.

Sergeant Elaine Malcolm, the force’s mental health and suicide prevention lead, said: “As police officers, some of the most heartbreaking incidents we deal with include people who are isolated, vulnerable or are struggling with their mental health.

“The police have a vital role in helping these people get the support they need and we use our vans to respond to a wide range of incidents, many of which involve mental health issues. We also work closely with other organisations to provide support to vulnerable people.

“By displaying Samaritans‘ contact details, we hope to share information that can help people at a time when they need it the most."

The move is part of a wider raft of support the force has introduced in recent years.

It includes a team of mental health specialists who can provide officers with expert advice as they deal with incidents, and force-wide training for officers and PCSO's to help them better understand people’s mental health needs.

Samaritans says a survey of 3,000 people across the UK found that 8 per cent of people surveyed were experiencing mental health problems at the beginning of lockdown, rising to 10 per cent by mid-May.

Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley said: “There’s no doubt that these uncertain and challenging times have affected the way we go about our daily lives.

“As restrictions and uncertainty continues, it is essential that we look after our own mental health and others by continuing to check in on one another and sharing how we are feeling whether it’s with a friend, family member or a confidential helpline like Samaritans.

“We’re grateful to North Yorkshire Police for helping to raise awareness of our services, as Samaritans volunteers are always there to listen and they won’t judge or tell you what to do.”

Anyone can contact Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org