EMERGENCY services are struggling to cope with the strain of coronavirus and the impact it has had on the mental health crisis in Greater Manchester. 

The number of police officers responding to people in crisis because of poor mental health has doubled since February. 

Almost 60 officers a day are tied up dealing with incidents relating to mental health problems across the borough – on top of the hundreds of coronavirus-related incidents officers are called to each week.

Deputy Mayor for Greater Manchester, Baroness Bev Hughes, said the additional strain from mental health calls was adding to the “exceptional demand” faced across the area. 

She said: “Calls for assistance from people with mental health problems is always a significant part of the case load that police work with.

“These calls are up by 42 per cent at the moment compared to February, with 90 per cent of incidents coming from 999 calls. 

“It’s up from around 11,000 a week to 15,000. On average, almost 60 officers a day are dealing with people who are calling police because of mental health problems – that’s double what we would expect.

“There are three main reasons in terms of this increase. Very often it’s a problem of not taking medication, but in these covid times bereavement is a significant factor behind many of those calls, as well as people feeling they haven’t got the support they actually need.” 

Earlier this year, Bolton’s “unhappiness” rate was revealed to be the highest in Greater Manchester. 

A council report showed that an estimated 42,000 residents over 16 had a common mental health disorder – accounting for 15 per cent of the population. 

The town also had a higher proportion of patients with severe mental illness than average, with the rate increasing faster than national rises. 

Over £100,000 is set to be invested in improving the mental wellbeing of residents, as part of plans drawn up by the health and council bosses before lockdown. 

Baroness Hughes vowed to use fortnightly meetings of a “multi-agency taskforce”, joint work between police, local authorities, and mental health services, and a 24/7 crisis line to try and improve responses and meet the demand more effectively.