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Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health special issue on SEEI

February 10, 2011

The Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health has released a special supplement issue focused on the Systems Enhancement Evaluation Initiative (SEEI). SEEI evaluated the impact of a $167 million investment made by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care towards community mental health services in the province. Mental Health Notescontinues to explore the articles from the special issue, today looking at studies involving police and crisis services.

The first article looks at a study conducted to learn more about police involvement with persons with mental illness, implementation of diversion practices, and changes that may have occurred since the funding enhancements began in 2005. The police services in Ontario that were surveyed indicated a trend of increasing police encounters with persons with mental illness, but also a substantial involvement by Ontario police in diversion programming. In 2005, more departments than previously were offering training (especially to front-line officers), on-site diversion responses and agreements for follow-up transfer of care. However, the results also showed that training was significantly more likely to be provided in large-area rather than small-area services. Police had a range of diversion practices in place, with collaboration with mental health mobile teams being most common. Most services had written guidelines to assist officer response when mental illness was involved, and the vast majority of services had at least one on-site diversion response in place. The article also discusses limitations and next steps, including exploring data quality and standardization across the province.

The next article highlights a SEEI study comparing three models of crisis programs: police as part of a specialized mental health team, mental health worker as part of a specialized police team, and informal relationship between police and mental health crisis service. The programs are compared according to the role of police and mental health crisis workers, how the programs operate, and their impact on the perceived needs of mental health consumers, their families, and service providers. The study uses an ethnographic approach, including both focus group interviews and participant observation, and included both rural and urban services. Several consistent themes emerged from the findings, including that: all communities value their crisis services; problems arise due to a lack of public transportation; when people are in crisis they need help immediately; crisis programs need the capacity to handle volume; easy access to psychiatric beds is essential; consumers want peer support as part of crisis care; crisis services require interagency collaborations; and specific gaps are unique to each community. The paper also elaborates on the similarities and differences in service delivery between each model, and provides recommendations on mobility of crisis programs, access to beds, staffing, models, assessment of gaps, and peer support.

The next issue of Mental Health Notes will profile a set of articles in the SEEI special issue that examine continuity of care in court support programs and early intervention programs for psychosis.

See “Police-Citizen Encounters That Involve Mental Health Concerns: Results of an Ontario Police Services Survey,” Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health (2010; 29 [Supplement 5]: 53-71), available atwww.metapress.com, and “Psychiatric Crisis Services in Three Communities,” Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health (2010; 29 [Supplement 5]: 73-86), available at www.metapress.com.

Full contents of the SEEI Special Supplement Issue of the Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health are available atwww.metapress.com.

For more information about SEEI please contact Heather Bullock atheather_bullock@camh.net.

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