Psychology student trains police on mental health crisis

  • Date

    Thu 21 Sep 23

Antonio Ferreira

A psychology student and campaigner shared his story with Metropolitan Police recruits to help officers compassionately aid people in mental health crises.

Second year undergraduate Antonio Ferreira, 25, spoke at Scotland Yard’s police academy as part of his campaign HearMeSpeak.

He’s also worked with new recruits, with the a senior officer saying they “fully intend” on working with him “into the future”.

Antonio was arrested for affray when he was a teenager after experiencing a serious mental health episode and tried to end his own life whilst in sixth form college.

He claims he was “blamed, shamed, and ridiculed” by police before being sectioned.

Lived experience

Now Antonio is hoping to use his lived experience to shape guidance for police officers and improve their training.

He believes officers must have the appropriate knowledge and skills to respond compassionately to people experiencing mental distress.

As part of his campaign, Antonio attended the Police, Public and Safety Training (PPST) at The Metropolitan Police Academy and spoke with Superintendent Mark Gallacher, lead for learning and development at Hendon Policing College.

Antonio said: "Sir Robert Peel said, ‘To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police...’

"It is my favour to ensure this is a principle that is consistently followed and respected by all members of the police in respect to a mental health crisis - where there may be an immediate threat to life.

"Attending the training day was a privilege, and it displayed a great deal of responsibility and accountability by the Met.

"I asked to be heard and Supt Mark Gallacher was keen to hear me speak and learn from my experience.

"Hopefully this is the start of diligently seeking the input of those with lived experience."

Training to police forces

The HearMeSpeak campaign invites organisations responsible for providing guidance and training to police forces across the UK to urgently review policing mental health problems and change policy.

He is calling on the government and leading bodies like ACPO to review legislation, guidance, and training around policing within a mental health crisis.

Superintendent Mark Gallacher, lead for learning and development at Hendon Policing College, said: "Since Antonio attended the PPST he has also delivered his presentation to a cohort of new recruits during the ‘community days’ of their final weeks training.

"These inputs have proved highly effective and relevant to the recruits training.

"We fully intend on working with Antonio for him to deliver this presentation to both new recruits and PPST into the future.

"We are also planning to use Antonio’s story in our upcoming training for all Front Line Police concerning the implementation of the Right Care, Right Person model."