Police in 54 and 55 Divisions have announced a new partnership with Toronto East General Hospital in order to help people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Called a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team, the partnership brings together a mental health nurse and a specially trained police officer to respond to 911 calls, and provide the person suffering from a mental health crisis with the necessary services.
The partnership is contacted only by 911 operators and can not be reached by members of the public, so if someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, they are reminded to contact 911.
Police said not all calls will be responded to by the service. Those calls involving thoughts of suicide, self-harm, distorted or psychotic thinking, anxiety, overwhelming depression and a temporary breakdown of coping skills will garner a response, while cases like overdoses, drug and alcohol intoxication, and people who are violent or possessing a weapon won’t.
The team also provides follow up services and referrals to those requiring them.
While they are equipped with handcuffs, they are used only by the officer and in accordance with Toronto Police Service principles. This also occurs only when the individual involved is posing a safety to risk to others or if that individual is being arrested under the Mental Health Act. If such an arrest occurs, the person is taken to the nearest psychiatric facility, which police said is usually the closest emergency room.
The Mobile Crisis Intervention Team operates seven days a week and usually between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Partnerships like this already exist for 10 of the Toronto Police’s 17 divisions.