Local police partner with CMHA to assist with crisis calls

File photo by © Can Stock Photo / dundanim

The Canadian Mental Health Association in Elgin-Middlesex is teaming up with two Middlesex County police forces to assist with mental health and addiction calls.

The new initiative called the Middlesex Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT) was created to address the need for crisis support in nearby rural and First Nations communities. The program’s launch comes after area police have seen a 63 per cent increase in mental health/addiction-related calls in the last three years.

The newly launched program, supported by provincial funding will have two mental health response workers assisting the Middlesex County OPP and the Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service with mental health related police calls.

“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 Beth Mitchell, CEO of CMHA Elgin-Middlesex. Mitchell added that individuals and families will often call police first during a mental health crisis. Since early November, the MCRRT has already supported 132 calls.

Mental health response workers will work collaboratively with police to assess, triage, de-escalate, and provide resources to individuals in a crisis. Additionally, workers will be able to provide support for front-line officers and volunteer emergency personnel with coping strategies along with mental health and addictions education and training.

Additionally, mental health response workers will provide support for front-line police officers and volunteer emergency personnel with coping strategies, along with mental health and addiction education and training.

“We have heard the needs from our community and will continue to adapt to the ever-changing climate to provide the best and most professional service possible.” said Dean Croker, Middlesex OPP detachment commander.

Individuals experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis can call Reach Out 24/7 at 1-866-933-2023, or at the non-emergent line 1-888-310-1122.