Strathroy and Middlesex County, ON – A new partnership between Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Elgin-Middlesex Branch, Middlesex County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service (SCPS) will provide more effective and appropriate responses to mental health and addictions-related crisis calls in rural areas.
This new initiative, known as the Middlesex Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT), has been developed to address a need for mental health, addictions and crisis support in the rural communities of Middlesex County. Mental health and/or addictions-related calls to Middlesex County OPP and the SCPS combined have increased by 63 per cent in the past three years.
Launched last month and supported by provincial government funding, the MCRRT will see two mental health response workers embedded within the Middlesex County OPP and SCPS who accompanies an officer on mental health and addictions-related police calls. Since November 6, the MCRRT has supported 132 contacts experiencing a crisis.
“Often when individuals or families experience a mental health or addiction-related crisis, they call the police as the first response. To better support those in crisis, police services have partnered with CMHA to develop mobile response teams that can provide immediate support to someone in distress,” says Beth Mitchell, CEO of CMHA Elgin-Middlesex. “By having a mental health worker on the team, an individual in crisis can be stabilized, and the worker can create a care plan so that the person receives the mental health supports they need. The individual will also avoid entry into an already overburdened hospital emergency department or the justice system.”
The mental health response workers will work with uniformed officers from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. These hours will complement existing community crisis services, including CMHA afterhours support at the Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital, to provide coverage seven days a week combined. In the coming months, the team will reassess hours based on data and determine if hours should be adjusted based on when MCRRT support is needed most.
The MCRRT mental health response workers, in collaboration with police, will:
- Assess, triage, de-escalate and provide resources to individuals in a mental health or addictions-related crisis
- Decrease unnecessary emergency department visits or justice involvement
- Determine appropriate links to community services and supports
- Provide a wellness check 24-48 hours after a crisis occurs
- Improve the experience of individuals and their families
- Ensure every individual living in the rural community has access to high-quality service, whether in Middlesex County or within First Nations communities
- Decrease stigma of individuals living with mental health and/or addictions concerns
- Build and maintain effective partnerships between police services and health care partners
Additionally, the mental health response workers will provide support for front-line police officers and volunteer emergency personnel with coping strategies, along with mental health and addictions education and training.
Detachment Commander Dean Croker of the Middlesex County OPP stated, “The Middlesex County OPP takes great pride in forming strong partnerships within our community and working hard to adapt to the ever changing needs of those we serve. As a result of police related data showing the increasing need within Middlesex County for supports in the area of mental health calls for service, we are proud to have partnered with the Strathroy Caradoc Police Service and the Elgin-Middlesex Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in a collective goal to help those in need. This service will provide access to immediate supports though a compassionate and efficient service and support those in crisis living outside the City of London. This strong partnership between our highly trained and professional OPP front line members and CMHA mental health response workers is another step in supporting those in need and working to build trust with those in crisis. We have heard the needs from our community and will continue to adapt to the ever-changing climate to provide the best and most professional service possible.”
“Strathroy-Caradoc Police are excited and proud to launch this initiative with our partners at CMHA Elgin-Middlesex and our OPP colleagues as we enhance community safety and wellness to residents throughout Middlesex County. Together we can improve care and service for individuals living with mental health and/or addictions; we can because we care!”
Individuals who may be experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis can access crisis services in Middlesex County by calling Reach Out 24/7 at 1-866-933-2023, contacting the non-emergent line 1-888-310-1122, or dialing 911.
Canadian Mental Health Association, Elgin-Middlesex (http://www.cmha-middlesex.local/ www.cmhaelgin.ca)
CMHA Elgin-Middlesex provides community-based mental health services, housing supports, outreach and education through many locations across London, St. Thomas, Elgin county, Middlesex county, Strathroy, Exeter and Goderich. We promote mental wellness through responsive and innovative services and empower individuals on their recovery journey.
Middlesex County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
The Middlesex County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) services a large rural area surrounding both the City of London and the Municipality of Strathroy Caradoc. The Middlesex OPP has a proud history and strong partnership with our three First Nations communities including the Oneida First Nation, Munsee-Delaware First Nation and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. We service two major highways including HWY 401 and HWY 402 and both are proven to be an integral thoroughfares for heavy commercial and commuter traffic, with access to two major border crossings. The Middlesex OPP consists of four OPP detachments and five Community Policing Offices (CPO) located within the London, Lucan, Strathroy and Glencoe community. The members of the Middlesex County OPP are proud to serve the communities we call home. Our members work hard every day to form strong partnerships within our community and to build relationships with our community partners and organizations to provide the communities we serve with the best service possible.
The Strathroy-Caradoc Police provides policing service to the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc; enacted in 1872, the Service has a staff complement of 50 members that includes uniform and civilian members. Our motto of “community commitment” clearly identifies our passion and focus to work with and for our community; providing the best service that they deserve.
To schedule an interview, please contact:
(519) 668-0624 x427 or (519) 282-1562
PC Kevin Howe
Middlesex OPP Media Relations Officer
Constable Mark Thuss
Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service
(519) 245-1250 (Ext. 227)