Province Aims to Improve Care for People in Mental Health Crisis


Ontario's Ministry of Health has unveiled a new set of guidelines designed to help police services and hospitals across the province improve services for patients in crisis.

Last week, Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, announced a new police-hospital framework and toolkit to better support the transition from police supervision to hospital care for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

"In emergency departments across the province, people in crisis are placed under police supervision, often for up to eight hours, until they are admitted under the guidelines set out by the Mental Health Act," the Ministry writes in a recent news release.

"Not only can police presence in a hospital be distressing for some patients, police officers are frontline resources that can be better used in their communities, serving the public and not waiting in hospitals."

There are a number of hospitals across the province that already maintain partnerships with their regional police departments, but the hope is with the introduction of this framework and toolkit to create a consistently reliable process for patients, hospital staff and police officers in the midst of crisis.

“By establishing a clear and consistent process between police services and hospitals, people experiencing a mental health crisis will receive better support for when they arrive at the emergency department,” said Elliott. "This is part of our cross-government work to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy."

Health-care partners and police services worked together to create the new framework and toolkit, which aims to:

  • Help people access timely care and protect their privacy
  • Decrease transfer of custody wait times so police officers can return to their duties sooner
  • Improve patient transfers so hospital staff can better meet their needs
  • Build stronger relationships and coordination between hospitals and police services
  • Protect the safety and security of vulnerable people, the public and health-care workers.

“The police-hospital transition framework will ensure that individuals in crisis receive care faster and police get back on the streets sooner -- keeping our communities safe,” said Jones.

Ontario is committed to investing $3.8 billion over the next 10 years to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.

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