Improving mental health crisis response

BRANTFORD — Brantford police have partnered with several social work and mental health agencies to develop a new collaborative community mental health response strategy called the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT).

At a press conference on Wednesday April 20 the initiative was unveiled and media was given the opportunity to ask questions.

“As an agency we want to be able to provide the right service at the right place at the right time to the individual,” said Chuck Dowdall, executive director of St. Leonard’s Community Services (SLCS). ”This initiative speaks volumes to how this community has come together to make sure a person receives the right service at the right time and at the right place. It also ensures there will be no gaps in service going forward for these individuals needing assistance.”

MCRRT is made up of a team of a uniformed officer and a SLCS Mental Health Specialist who attend as first responders to emergency calls for service involving persons in mental crisis.

Previous approaches dealing with people who were experiencing mental health crisis’ involved hospitalization and an arrest until the individuals symptoms eased or passed. The individual would soon or eventually be released just to potentially repeat the process, not actually helping the individual get better.

This new collaborative strategy was initiated by members of Brantford Police, SLCS, Nipissing University, HealthIM, Brant Community Healthcare System and Wilfrid Laurier University and is based on local research conducted by Wilfrid Laurier University and HealthIM that will help police and health practitioners ensure patients get the best quality care during an incident.

“Previously, only 27 per cent of those we did not apprehend were connected to community mental health services,” said Brantford police Chief Geoff Nelson. “That left 73 per cent of those we engaged on that treadmill [not receiving the help they need]. Now, 100 per cent of those we engage are connected with community services or provided information about available services.”

MCRRT has been in place for seven months and the developers are excited about the positive feedback they’ve been receiving.

Brantford has a large Indigenous population and some Indigenous individuals are suffering from residential school related post-traumatic stress disorder and other culture specific issues. Dowdall said that the team has already been in contact with Six Nations Health Services Mental Health department.

“We’ve been in contact with [Six Nations] Mental Health and are going to work with them to address these specific cultural needs,” said Dowdall. “We know how important it is to treat each and every person on an individual basis.”

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