MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- A new Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) is now in place in Elgin County thanks to a collaboration involving the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Elgin-Middlesex, Elgin County OPP and the Aylmer Police Service.

Similar to the Mobile Outreach Support Team in St. Thomas, the new MCRT will respond to mental health calls in Aylmer and across Elgin County.

In a statement, Brianne Geddis, manager of Elgin Crisis Services and Crisis Call Diversion for the local CMHA, said this collaboration comes after the need was identified in the community.

“We are excited to launch MRCT and support those in crisis across the region as well as help enhance service delivery from the police services involved.”

Funding and resources for the MCRT unit has been provided by CMHA Elgin-Middlesex and the OPP and Aylmer police.

A mental health crisis worker with CMHA Elgin-Middlesex will work Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., responding to mental health calls with a front-line police officer trained to respond to mental health crises. The team will also follow-up with anyone who may have experienced a crisis outside of those hours to provide support.

Aylmer police Chief Zvonko Horvat says it's a valuable resource for those dealing with a mental health crisis.

“The expertise that that particular worker has to deal with mental health crisis or those that are suffering with mental health, as you know officers deal with many social issues in our communities and mental illness…now they have the subject matter expert alongside them to help deescalate the situation and help those in crisis.”

Acting Insp. Mike Butler of the Elgin County OPP added that they are pleased to be launching the service and there are plans to expand it when funding can be secured.

Horvat adds, “I am just very excited we could get this program running, certainly our partnership will enhance our service delivery to those that are suffering from mental illness and the officers will have that expertise available to them.”