(Owen Sound, Nov. 16, 2020) – Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Grey Bruce Mental Health and Addiction Services has partnered with several police services across the region to expand upon an existing program that supports people experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis.
In October 2019, CMHA Grey Bruce Mental Health and Addiction Services teamed up with the Owen Sound Police Service to launch the Mobile Mental Health and Addiction Response Team (MMHART), consisting of CMHA mental health workers embedded with the Owen Sound police to respond to mental health and addictions crisis calls.
CMHA Grey Bruce is pleased to be partnering with the West Grey Police Service, Hanover Police Service, Saugeen Shores Police Service, and the South Bruce Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment to expand the program and provide more informed, effective and safe responses to individuals experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis across Grey and Bruce Counties.
This expansion of the MMHART program came into effect Nov. 2.
Through MMHART, CMHA workers and police officers work as a team to:
- Assess, de-escalate on scene and provide resources to individuals in a mental health or addictions-related crisis
- Divert individuals from unnecessary hospital emergency department visits and involvement with the justice system
- Determine appropriate links to community services
- Improve individual and caregiver experiences
- Decrease stigma of individuals living with mental health and/or addictions issues
- Build and maintain effective partnerships between police services and health care agencies
The MMHART service in the rural communities outside of Owen Sound has a mental health worker based out of the police station who will self-dispatch and meet a uniformed officer at the scene of a crisis call. This self-dispatch approach allows the mental health worker to cover a larger geographic area for these communities and will run three days per week, with various rotating schedules.
In Owen Sound, MMHART service involves a mental health worker and a police officer in plain clothes riding in the same car, responding to calls together. It will be expanding from two to four days per week.
“This expansion of our MMHART program is a huge step forward for the communities we serve that enables both CMHA and our police partners to provide informed, compassionate and effective responses to individuals in crisis,” said CMHA Grey Bruce CEO Clark MacFarlane. “Our mental health workers are able to evaluate a crisis on scene, ensure the individual receives an accurate assessment and is connected with the most appropriate resources to regain wellness. The expansion of MMHART will save even more lives.”
“Having the CMHA mental health workers embedded with our officers is going to have benefits for so many,” said South Bruce OPP Detachment Commander Krista Miller on behalf of all police services in the MMHART program. “First and foremost, it will allow for a person in crisis to receive the right help, in the right place and at the right time. It will assist in de-criminalizing mental health, avoiding apprehensions and rides in the back of a police cruiser, and diverting away from hospital emergency room visits. It will reduce the amount of time officers dedicate to these calls for service due to assessments and proper supports being offered at the time. There is no downside to this great partnership.”
- People with a mental illness are twice as likely to have a substance use problem compared to the general population. At least 20 per cent of people with a mental illness have a co-occurring substance use problem. For people with schizophrenia, the number may be as high as 50 per cent.
- The cost to house a person in the community with mental health supports is $72 per day, compared to $460 per day to house a person in jail or $485 per day in hospital.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Grey Bruce
At the CMHA Grey Bruce we cultivate hope, resilience and community for those who live with, and are impacted by, mental illness and/or/addiction. We want to create an inclusive community inspiring hope, choice and well-being for all. We are driven by our values of compassion, dignity, inclusivity, integrity and choice. For more information, visit www.cmhagb.org.
About Saugeen Shores Police Service
The Saugeen Shores Police Service’s vision is to make Saugeen Shores the safest community in which to live, work and play. Their mission is to serve and protect in partnership within their community. For more information, visit www.saugeenshorespolice.com
About Ontario Provincial Police Service
The Ontario Provincial Police’s vision is to create safe communities and a secure Ontario. Their mission is to serve the province by protecting its citizens, upholding the law and preserving public safety. For more information, visit www.opp.ca
About Hanover Police Service
The Hanover Police Service is committed to investigative excellence and professional community based policing that includes a full range of criminal investigations, drug investigations and traffic investigations. For more information, visit www.hanover.ca
About West Grey Police Service
The West Grey Police Service and the West Grey Police Services Board, in partnership with the members of the Municipality of West Grey, will endeavour to create a safe environment in which to live, work and visit. Learn more at www.westgreypolice.ca.
To arrange an interview, contact:
Fundraising, Media Relations & Special Events Coordinator
Canadian Mental Health Association Grey Bruce
South Bruce O.P.P.
T: 519-396-3341 (Kincardine)
T: 519-881-3130 (Walkerton)