Police Interactions with People Perceived to have a Mental Health Problem: A Critical Review of Frames, Terminology, and Definitions


In the last two decades, interest in the topic of how police interact with individuals perceived to have a mental health problem has increased substantially. This interest has produced a growing body of research on the topic and with it an expansion in the variety of terms and frames used in discussing the issue. The variation in terminology and topic framing is important to consider for a number of theoretical and methodological reasons, including our ability as researchers to shape the wider response to the issue and concerns about the extent to which the varied terms are valid and comparable. To explore this topic, we undertook a scoping review of 92 articles on the topic published between 2000 and 2017. The findings show that the current framing tends to emphasize issues related to the mental health system and police training to the detriment of other forces related to the issue such as housing, poverty, and stigma. The analy- sis also shows that person with mental illness is the most common terminology used in the literature, but its use raises some concerns about validity and precision.

Victims & Offenders, 13(8), 1037-1054
Jacek Koziarski
Jacek Koziarski
PhD Candidate