Police Say Mental Health-Related Calls on the Rise in Mississauga

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While police and local leaders have been candid about the slight uptick in crime in Brampton and Mississauga over the past year, not all residents are aware that local authorities are also fielding more calls related to mental health issues.

According a recent Peel Regional Police report, police received over 5,800 calls for assistance in relation to mental health issues in 2017.

That makes a 16 per cent increase over 2016.

"One in five Canadians experience some form of a mental illness in their lifetime. In Peel, we have approximately 6,000 mental health related calls that we attend every year. That's 16 calls every day," Peel police said in a recent news release.

Calls related to what police call "people in crisis" are incredibly common.

In some cases, the incidents are serious.

In January of 2018, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cleared police of wrongdoing after a man sustained serious injuries after he reportedly swallowed acid and set his apartment on fire in Mississauga.

Now, police are reminding residents that a program is available for people in need in Peel.

In March 2015, Peel police collaborated with the Canadian Mental Health Association to introduce the 24.7 Crisis Support Peel Dufferin Program.

Police say the program is intended to respond to the growing need for mental health support in Brampton and Mississauga.

As for how it works, police say the program offers support to residents of Mississauga and Brampton who are 16 years of age and older, and are experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis.

People who utilize the program are serviced by a team of health professionals and specially trained plain clothed police officers, who may arrange a mobile visit if required.

The team conducts mental health assessments to determine the nature of the crisis and come up with a safety plan. Many factors are considered, such as the individual's existing support system, and other programs and services that are available to prevent a future crisis.

"The goal of the program is to support individuals in a familiar environment limiting unnecessary trips to the hospital," police say.

"Apprehensions under the Mental Health Act are the last resort. In addition, 24.7 Crisis Support Peel Program allows the individuals with mental illness get the help they need without becoming involved in the criminal justice system."

If you or someone you know needs crisis support, you can call the 24.7 crisis support Peel program at 905 -278- 9036.

The crisis line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has access to a language interpretation service with over 160 languages.

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