New initiative will see mental health workers assist county police on crisis calls
LONDON, ONT -- A new initiative from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Middlesex OPP and Strathroy-Caradoc police is aiming to improve the way police respond to mental-health and addiction-related crisis calls in rural communities.
The new Middlesex Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT) will see two mental health response workers join the OPP and Strathroy-Caradoc police.
When a crisis call occurs one of the members will attend the call with police to provide assistance.
"Often when individuals or families experience a mental health or addiction-related crisis, they call the police as the first response. To better support those in crisis, police services have partnered with CMHA to develop mobile response teams that can provide immediate support to someone in distress," says Beth Mitchell, CEO of CMHA Elgin-Middlesex in a statement issued by Middlesex OPP.
The mental health response workers will work with uniformed officers from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
The MCRRT mental health response workers role is as follows:
- Assess, triage, de-escalate and provide resources to individuals in a mental health or addictions-related crisis
- Decrease unnecessary emergency department visits or justice involvement
- Determine appropriate links to community services and supports
- Provide a wellness check 24-48 hours after a crisis occurs
- Improve the experience of individuals and their families
- Ensure every individual living in the rural community has access to high-quality service, whether in Middlesex County or within First Nations communities
- Decrease stigma of individuals living with mental health and/or addictions concerns
- Build and maintain effective partnerships between police services and health care partners
The mental health response workers will also provide support for front-line police officers and volunteer emergency personnel with coping strategies.
"By having a mental health worker on the team, an individual in crisis can be stabilized, and the worker can create a care plan so that the person receives the mental health supports they need. The individual will also avoid entry into an already overburdened hospital emergency department or the justice system,” said Mitchell.
The program was launched back in November and since then the MCRRT has supported 132 crisis calls.
The Middlesex OPP and Strathroy-Caradoc police have combined seen an increase of 63 per cent for mental health and/or addictions related calls in the last three years.
Individuals who may be experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis can access crisis services in Middlesex County by calling Reach Out 24/7 at 1-866-933-2023, contacting the non-emergent line 1-888-310-1122, or dialing 911.