Criminalising Distress: empowering patients, challenging police in mental health care

About the project

Our Criminalising Distress research project is an urgently needed independent national study exploring SIM – Serenity Integrated Mentoring. The SIM model – which at one stage almost half of English mental health trusts used – embeds police officers within community mental health teams. It is a stark example of the securitisation of health.

Following a campaign by lived experienced-led group StopSIM, NHS England told trusts to review the approach. In March 2023, it said the model should end – but did not publish the policy co-produced by StopSIM or apologise for its own role promoting SIM originally.

Medact is concerned that the criminalisation of distress has not ended. We want our work to amplify the voices of those most impacted by SIM and SIM-like practices.

Former members of the StopSIM coalition are acting as a steering committee for the project, with their input sought on every aspect of the work. The University of Greenwich has granted ethical approval for this research.

Call for participants

A key part of the research involves interviewing participants (including service users, their families, and health workers) about their experiences with SIM, or related programmes.

We plan to publish a report which will foreground the voices of those most impacted. We hope this contributes to further work seeking accountability and an end to the criminalisation of distress.

You can take part in this research if you:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have experience with SIM or a programme with a different name based on the SIM model (eg. JET, HIP, PHIM or SHIPP)
  • This could be as a service user, a member of their family / friend / other supporter, a health worker, or another relevant stakeholder

Do you have further questions?

Want to take part?