Middlesex OPP and Strathroy-Caradoc police officers responding to mental health or addiction issues are being attended to by employees of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) through an initiative launched last month with the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Mental health department accompanied.
According to the OPP, calls to the two police stations have increased by a total of 63 percent over the past three years. This is a clear sign that more effective addiction, crisis and mental health support is needed in rural areas of the county.
As part of the new Middlesex Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT), two mental health workers will be embedded in both forces, working with officials Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to assess whether hours should be changed in the future will.
“When individuals or families experience a mental health or addiction crisis, they often call the police as the first response,” said Beth Mitchell, CEO of CMHA Elgin-Middlesex, in a statement.
“Having a mental health worker on the team can stabilize a person in crisis and create a care plan so that the person can get the mental health support they need.”
It was the OPP that first turned to CMHA after their demands on such matters tripled in the past year, said Karna Trentman, director of community service at CMHA Elgin-Middlesex.
“They really came to CMHA to say, ‘We’re not sure what to do. We don’t feel we have the expertise in this area and we think we can do better for the people in our communities, ”she said, adding that Strathroy-Caradoc Police will be back soon came on board.
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“Our local member of the provincial parliament has been actively helping us figure out how to get these funds. Together we wrote a proposal that we submitted to the Local Health Integration Network last December, and then a few months ago we heard the announcement that we had received funding, which was very exciting for all of us. “
Since launching Nov. 6, the MCRRT has made 132 connections, an example of how the community is welcoming the new initiative, CMHA officials say.
Trentman says the initiative will also result in mental health staff performing post wellness checkups.
“We all believe this will be preventative as the day after the crisis our staff will be contacting everyone to speak to them and review resources to connect with, ”she said.
According to the OPP, mental health workers will support frontline officers and volunteer first aiders in coping strategies in addition to education and training.
A similar initiative is to be launched in London next year.
The London Police Services Board voted in September to withdraw $ 500,000 from the police budget to fund a new Crisis Outreach and Support Team.
The move came in response to calls from Black Lives Matter London during the summer protests in Minneapolis following George Floyd’s death.
Under the plan, four specialist officers will team up with local mental health workers to respond to some of the hundreds of mental health calls the service receives each month.
– With Sawyer Bogdan’s files