A significant number of calls for Police help often end up transporting an individual to the Hospital for “Mental Health” reasons. One of the health goals of the Central East Local Health Integration Network (Central East LHIN) is to help individuals remain in their communities and homes – that is, look after people before their problem reaches a crisis stage and before they need to go to a Hospital. A new partnership between the OPP, Cobourg Police and community health providers will mean that people with mental health or addictive issues can get assistance sooner. Funded by the LHIN and called M-HEART (Mental Health Engagement and Response Team), existing Mental Health Response Officers will be accompanied on ride-along with new M-HEART Social Worker and/or Mental Health Nurse resources to jointly and proactively engage with individuals in the community with mental health and/or addiction issues.
A press release from the OPP, Cobourg Police and Northumberland Hills Hospital said that:
The new M-HEART clinicians will provide a mix of supports, including intensive case management, mental health therapeutic treatment, family supports, assertive outreach, advocacy, linkage to hospital-based resources, linkage to community resources (including multi-sector supports, such as income assistance and housing support), as well as primary care connection, all with an aim to support longer term stabilization of a vulnerable population.
Additionally, in the case of the new Mental Health Nurse, medication administration, monitoring and metabolic monitoring will be available immediately in the field.
The implication is that there will be a newly hired Mental Health Nurse and a Mental Health Social worker – that’s what the LHIN funding is for.
Linda Davis, NHH President and CEO said:
“Despite existing programming to support individuals in crisis, in calendar year 2017 NHH saw over 1,100 mental health-related visits in our Emergency Department. Similar programs in other jurisdictions have shown this model to be a win-win-win situation for all involved: police, health care providers and mental health/addiction clients,”
According to Jennifer Cox, NHH Manager of Mental Health and Lisa Darling, Detachment Commander for Northumberland OPP, expected benefits are:
- Bring care to individuals in need in Northumberland—versus waiting for them to come to us
- Better connect them with community supports
- Use of a street-level approach to hopefully promote lasting recoveries
- Increased capacity of limited resources through improved coordination, collaboration and connection.
- Empowerment of individuals and their families to participate in care planning
- A reduction of Emergency Department visits and repeat visits
- A reduction in inpatient hospital days,
- A reduction in repeated police involvement,
- Reduced reliance on income supports
- An increased participation in community activities/supports.
Cobourg Police Chief Kai Liu said:
“Effective mobile crisis intervention prevents situations from escalating to a point that options are limited. This partnership allows for a collaborative approach for people in crisis acting as a gateway to a vast array of support. This intervention model puts the right people in the right place to best serve our community.”
The new program is scheduled to start “this spring” and will operate 5 days per week. It will cover all of Northumberland – except Port Hope. It is hoped to expand it to include the Port Hope Police Service in the near future.