City council in St. Thomas has approved $18,000 in funds to continue a mental health crisis support program at the city’s police department through the end of June.
As reported in the St. Thomas Times-Journal, this funding allows the St. Thomas Police Service to continue to have a mental health worker assist officers on crisis calls for the short term as it pursues additional funding to extend the program long term.
These types of initiatives, commonly known as mobile crisis intervention teams (MCITs), were identified as one of five priority areas in Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division’s 2019 pre-budget submission to the provincial government. Evidence shows MCITs are effective in supporting people experiencing a mental health or addictions-related crisis. These programs are staffed by a uniformed police officer and mental health and addictions worker and respond to a person in crisis to:
- Ensure timely and direct links with community services and resources
- Prevent and reduce harms to clients
- Decrease encounters with and entry into the justice system
- Prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital emergency departments
MCITs are one component of mental health and addictions-related crisis support that several CMHA branches currently provide across Ontario. CMHA Elgin County’s Alex Paterson has been working with the St. Thomas Police Service since 2017. According to the Times-Journal, in 2018 Paterson responded to more than 560 calls with the police service.