How A Norway Ambulance Is Squashing Mental Illness Stigma

September 26, 2014 12:15 PM

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How A Norway Ambulance Is Squashing Mental Illness Stigma

While psychiatric nurse Arjen van Dijk was working in patient admissions at the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway about 10 years ago, he often saw police bringing in one patient after another -- often handcuffed, even pepper sprayed. Police were responding to roughly 2,000 "psychiatric missions" each year, from public nudity to suicide attempts, and were concerned that the mentally ill individuals were posing a threat to themselves and others.

Van Dijk worried that the police's involvement had only worsened the existing stigma against mental illness. "When a psychiatric person is sitting in a police car outside your neighbor's house, you think, 'Wow, this is criminal.' 'How about my safety?'" he said. But with an ambulance, the patient in...

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