New mobile crisis rapid response team promises to help Sudbury's first responders
SUDBURY -- Help will soon be on the way to those who need it in emergency crisis situations.
Monday, Health Sciences North (HSN) unveiled plans for the city's new mobile crisis rapid response team in which crisis workers are being partnered with frontline police officers.
"Basically when police are responding to calls for service that involve mental health, this will allow us to pair a trained crisis worker to be able to respond with police to those situations and those scenes," said Jason Seguin, clinical manager at HSN.
Seguin said it's exciting news and is something they had been working to achieve for some time.
"Police are there to help keep people safe and crisis workers are there to help de-escalate crisis situations, provide on-site assessments and connect individuals to community services," he said.
Mental health has been moving more and more to the forefront for police agencies who have been called out by some for their handling of certain situations.
It's changed the way some have looked at policing.
Seguin said they can provide different types of service that will include both virtual and in-person situations.
"At the end of the day, what we're looking to do is to provide the right service, to the right individuals at the right point in time," he said. "The last thing that anyone wants is to be receiving services that are not right for them."
"We need to take mental health into account across all sectors -- it impacts us all. It impacts individuals not just with police, but impacts people at work, at home and their school lives, so the push at this point in our community is really to break down those barriers and remove the stigma," Seguin added.
It's those words that give Melissa Dufoe-Osaabiikwe hope.
Her mother struggled with mental health issues for five decades and police had to be called to their home more than once.
While her situation did not involve Sudbury police, Dufoe-Osaabiikwe knows how a police uniform might be triggering to some.
'My mom didn't have the support with her illness'
"My mom didn't have the support with her illness … the way she deserved, but there wasn't a lot of support when I was growing up," she said.
Dufoe-Osaabiikwe applauded the Greater Sudbury Police Service for taking part over Twitter. She's trying to give police the benefit of the doubt in this situation.
Her mother passed away last week and she's hopeful this could spare other families from dealing with similar pain.
"We've seen what happens when the outcome is negative -- those make the headlines or the news -- but what doesn't make the news is families like ours that never had the support to provide for her," Dufoe-Osaabiikwe said.
Police say this could be a game-changer when it comes to how things are done in their line of work.
"Twenty years ago we just would have had the officers deal with the person in crisis and transport them to the hospital for a mental assessment, but a situation like this, we're able to bring the mental-health workers and the crisis workers to the scene," said OPP Const. Rob Lewis
"It's going to change how we do business in the community. It's going to provide a positive impact, I believe, with these community members," said Sgt. Matt Hall with the Greater Sudbury Police Service.
The concept of a mobile crisis rapid response team isn't new in the province, and other agencies who have used it are already reporting significant reductions in people being detained while experiencing a mental health crisis.
Individuals instead are being given the care they need on scene and police, as a result, are spending less time in the emergency room.