CMHA Ontario has offered its support to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as the force launched a new mental health screening tool that will help officers assist individuals experiencing a mental health crisis receive suitable care. The interRAI Brief Mental Health Screener (BMHS) is a science-based mental health screening-form that will allow officers to note a person’s behavior using language that is more familiar to medical professionals working in hospital emergency rooms. The goal is to enhance communications between the officer and emergency room staff so that a person experiencing a crisis can receive appropriate treatment when police accompany them to the hospital.
To announce the BHMS, the OPP held a news conference in Vaughan, Ontario, just north of Toronto. At the conference, Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario said there are important benefits to initiatives like the screener.
“Tools such as the Brief Mental Health Screener enhance the transfer of care of a person in a mental health crisis, leading to better outcomes for individuals when they need it the most,” said Quenneville. “We’re pleased the OPP is taking steps to help officers improve interaction with those living with mental health issues and we look forward to further collaboration on this issue.”
The new training tool has already received praise from OPP officers in different areas of the province.
“It will allow us to speak the same language when we go to the hospitals and start to observe certain types of behavior,” Commander Inspector Dirk Cockburn from Nottawasaga OPP told the Alliston Herald. “It allows us to communicate that properly with the medical staff so that we are both on the same page.”
Police Chief Rod Freeman in Woodstock, Ontario had similar remarks about BHMS.
“I think if it gets a severely distressed person suffering serious mental health issues faster, properly qualified assistance from the medical field – and frees up police officers to return to their patrol function more quickly – I’ll always support it,” Freeman told the Woodstock Sentinel Review.