Police service members across the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) are responding to an increased number of calls related to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. In many cases, those in crisis have no previous connection to the health care system, and the police officer is the first person the individual comes into contact with related to their mental health issue.
Although many police service members are trained in de-escalation, and mental health first aid, they are often unable to provide the level of care needed to support individuals in that moment, or on an ongoing basis. These interactions often result in hospitalization, violence, criminalization, and stigma.
In response to this challenge, the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN is announcing the launch of Mobile Response Crisis Teams in all five of the LHIN’s sub-regions.
The Mobile Response Crisis Teams were created by community mental health agencies and police services throughout North Simcoe Muskoka. The teams take a unique approach to providing services in the community by physically partnering a community mental health crisis worker with a police officer.
The teams will meet individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in the community, provide a plan of care to support the individual in the moment, and connect them with mental health supports.
“Following the Mobile Response Crisis Team pilots in Couchiching, Barrie and area, South Georgian Bay, and North Simcoe, we observed a decrease in rates of police apprehension, hospital admission, and Emergency Department visits,” said Chris Brens, Mental Health and Addictions Lead at the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN. “By strengthening relationships between community mental health agencies and police services, we are able to improve quality and access to an appropriate level of care.”