Province launching new program adding crisis workers to assist OPP with calls related to mental health

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Published June 22, 2021 at 11:02 am

The Province has announced a new initiative called the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Crisis Call Diversion Program, which will adjust how first responders respond to calls related to mental health crises.

The Province will be investing $8.4 million in this program, which will involve adding a professional mental health and addictions crisis worker to each of the OPP Provincial Communications Centres.

Once they are assigned to a call, crisis workers will assist individuals by providing resources and tools, offering referrals, and helping them navigate the mental health system for help.

Additionally, crisis workers will be able to provide support and assist in preliminary de-escalation when a call has been assigned to a police officer, in order to ensure those experiencing a crisis get the help they need and aren’t hurt during the process.

The program was initially implemented as a pilot project in London, and crisis workers assisted with calls related to acute crisis situations including, mental health or substance use issues, relationship conflicts and family concerns.

Due to its initial success in London, the program was expanded to Thunder Bay, and will be expanded further throughout Ontario later in 2021.

“Our officers respond to thousands of mental health calls a year,” OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in a news release.

“The Crisis Call Diversion Program not only reduces the use of police personnel for non-emergent responses when appropriate, but also helps individuals experiencing mental health crises by offering better pathways to meet their needs and supporting the de-stigmatization of mental health,” he continued.

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