Early identification of misunderstood behaviour

If it is noticed on time that a person is facing problems in multiple life areas, it is possible to prevent the situation escalating. A neighbourhood officer can combine the domains safety and care, in order to enable a tailormade approach.

Early identification of misunderstood behaviour in the neighbourhood

Although regional collaborative ventures are important, cooperation at neighbourhood level is also essential. Especially when it comes to recognising the early signs that suggest someone is losing control of his or her life, on time.

It is possible to build on the experiences and lessons learned in the Action Programme Confused Behaviour. On that basis, reporting points for non-acute care have been organised, and a National Reporting Point for Worrying Behaviour

has been established. In a number of municipalities, Neighbourhood mental health officers have been deployed. This creates a basic infrastructure for improved access to appropriate care and support.

Linking function between care and safety: a Neighbourhood mental health officer

In the Action Programme Grip op Onbegrip the focus is on initiatives aimed at the early identification of misunderstood behaviour in the neighbourhood, for example the introduction of neighbourhood mental health officers.

A neighbourhood mental health officer may be employed at the mental health service, a local authority, a mental health institution or some other care or welfare organisation.

The neighbourhood mental health officer acts as a communication hub in the network of care and safety. They deal with people with misunderstood behaviour with the aim of early intervention and preventing escalations. In the evaluation report ‘the Power of the Neighbourhood mental health officer’ (CCV, 2021), the Centre for Crime Prevention and Safety (CCV) describes the operational elements of a neighbourhood mental health officer, and provides useful tips for implementing this type of function at local level. The neighbourhood mental health officer contributes among others to:

  1. Strengthening local cooperation between care and safety professionals.
  2. Identifying problems relating to misunderstood behaviour at an early stage and reducing nuisance in the neighbourhood.
  3. Gaining a clearer insight into the group of people and their care and/or support needs.

The right care and support following an early signal

Following an early signal of possible misunderstood behaviour, it is important that the notification eventually results in appropriate help and support, in time. It is essential that professionals at the interface between the care, safety and social domains are able to work closely together. For example the community police officer, the local GP, the mental health nurse assistant, housing associations, social workers and other care and welfare organisations.