New pilot project provides help for those with mental health and addiction issues
Different health care providers are joining forces with the London Police Service (LPS) to help people with mental health issues avoid crisis situations.
The Community Outreach and Support Team, or COAST for short, is a one-year pilot.
Last year LPS attended more than 3,500 mental health calls with about 750 people being arrested under the Mental Health Act.
LPS Supt. Bill Chantler says they are aiming to cutback on the unnecessary interactions between officers and those suffering from mental health or addictions.
“The COAST program is intended to reduce the need for a police-led response by front-line officers,” says Chantler. “And the way that they are achieving that is they have identified a number of individuals that are living in the community with significant mental health issues and reaching out to them to help them navigate the system and ensure that they are getting the support and services that they need from health care.”
Deb Gibson is the director of Mental Health Services at St. Joseph’s Health Care, and they too are part of the team, along with the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service, Canadian Mental Health Association Elgin-Middlesex and police.
“It’s proactive, connecting people, reconnecting people to care, to avoid those crisis situations,” says Gibson. “The COAST model provides a missing link within our community for those we collectively serve.”