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CMHA Ontario presents at Addictions and Mental Health Ontario conference

June 5, 2014

Mental health-related wait times and emergency department (ED) use were topics that CMHA Ontario addressed during two presentations at Addictions and Mental Health Ontario’s annual conference which took place from May 25-27, 2014.

Police-accompanied visits to the emergency department

Racialized populations, mental health/addictions and the emergency department

Police-accompanied visits to the emergency department

In partnership with the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC), CMHA Ontario presented the latest HSJCC Info Guide titled Strategies for Implementing Effective Police-Emergency Department Protocols in Ontario.

This info guide explores the issue of wait times for police officers who are accompanying individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to the emergency department. Dorina Simeonov, of CMHA Ontario, and Det.-Sgt Phil Lillie of the Provincial HSJCC, began the presentation with an overview of the different issues that impact police officers, hospital ED staff and individuals in crisis with specific mention of children and youth and racialized communities.

Several strategies were given to reduce ED wait times for police officers

Several strategies were then given to reduce ED wait times for police officers including:

  • Building strong relationships between police services and hospitals
  • Establishing clear lines of communication upon arrival at the ED with hospital staff as well as with the individual in crisis
  • Utilizing a mental health screener form to communicate information about the circumstances and observations about the person in crisis
  • ·Establishing a written agreement between police detachments and hospitals

The presentation concluded with an in-depth look into the protocol, forms and processes that were developed in Hamilton to reduce police ED wait times. Clinical Director Jodi Younger of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton talked about how the Hamilton Police Services and local hospital came together to form a working group and develop a joint process for change.

Younger emphasized the importance of monitoring and evaluating the new protocol to ensure the process continues to be refined. Since October 2012, the average wait time for Hamilton police officers in the ED has gone from 122 minutes to 74 minutes and patient wait times have also decreased.

To view the full presentation, visit the Addictions and Mental Health Ontario website.

Racialized populations, mental health/addictions and the emergency department

CMHA Ontario shared findings about how and why racialized populations in Ontario use EDs for mental health and addictions-related reasons.

CMHA Ontario and partners also shared findings about how and why racialized populations in Ontario use EDs for mental health and addictions-related reasons. This presentation was based on the work of the Community of Interest (COI) for Racialized Populations and Mental Health and Addictions, a provincial forum for knowledge exchange and collaborative knowledge creation that seeks to improve policy, planning and practice around racialized populations and mental health and addictions.

Presenters Sheela Subramanian of CMHA Ontario, Deqa Farah of Community Resource Connections of Toronto and Dawnmarie Harriott  of Working for Change shared highlights from the COI’s literature review, innovative practice survey, consultations with service providers and people with lived experience (PWLE) of racialization and mental health issues, and think tank event including:

  • The challenge in getting a complete picture of population-based ED use at the provincial level due to lack of socio-demographic data collection in the health system
  • Evidence in existing literature that some racialized populations are more likely to access the mental health system by way of the ED, and are also overrepresented in police- or first-responder accompanied visits to the ED
  • Evidence from consultations that racialized PWLE were more likely to use the ED when there are significant changes in their lives related to the social determinants of health, such as housing
  • Examples of innovative practices for ED diversion and improved ED service delivery such as peer support in the ED, and nurse practitioner led clinics for racialized people with mental health issues

The COI’s full presentation is available on the EENet website.

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