A pilot study exploring mental health consumers' experiences with the police
Police encounters with people experiencing mental illness are both common and problematic. While there is an international body of literature on police officers' perceptions of mental-health-related incidents, few studies have sought to understand these encounters from the perspectives of people experiencing mental illness. This pilot study recruited 26 people through a state-wide Consumer Advisory Group who completed an online survey regarding their encounters with police. Results indicated that when people perceived procedurally just treatment from police they were more likely to co-operate with them and to evaluate the encounter positively. The nature of police involvement and levels of internalised stigma moderated the association between perceived procedural justice and their evaluation. Prior contacts were also important in shaping participants' overall attitudes towards police. Findings highlight the importance of officers treating people experiencing mental illness fairly and respectfully to facilitate peaceful encounters and help foster more positive perceptions of the police.