West Shore RCMP’s mental health crisis apprehensions trending downward

West Shore RCMP's mental health crisis apprehensions trending downward

If there’s a mental health emergency on the West Shore, there’s a good chance Const. Benje Bartley and Nurse Dan Nguyen will get the call.

“We’ve been riding together since the team started hitting the streets around January 20th, and we work on a four-on-four-off rotation, and we spend our four days together,” said Nguyen.

The duo is part of a new team that pairs police with nurses. Cpl. Lauren Ferguson tells CHEK News, “We have three police officers and two amazing psych nurses on our unit, and we respond to calls of people in crisis or any kind of mental health-related call for service.”

The Mobile Integrated Crisis Response (MICR) team was created to address the 1,788 calls West Shore received last year; 337 of them (19 per cent) resulted in involuntary apprehensions under the Mental Health Act.

Police say that under the Mental Health Act, the law requires a police officer to take an individual to a designated medical facility to see a doctor when they apprehend someone deemed to be in crisis.

“I do our police checks through our computer system just to get some background so we know what we’re heading into,” says Const. Bartley.

“Through this collaboration with my partner, Nurse Dan, we are also able to get medical information that we don’t have on file.”

The MICR model appears to be working. Involuntary apprehensions are trending downward with only 39 (14 per cent) out of 270 calls this year.

“I think the most positive outcome that I’ve seen is people receiving care in the community at home,” added Nguyen,

Nurse Shea Mackenzie noted that having the team respond to calls together allows people to be heard and assessed in their place of crisis and to be approached with a non-judgmental, empathetic and caring lens.

Assessments are still underway, but with a budget of $375,000 from the province in partnership with Island Health, the early indication from West Shore RCMP shows that it’s money well spent.

The unit operates roughly 12 hours a day from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. If it continues to see positive results, the next step could be to make it 24 hours a day.

Harry CorroHarry Corro

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