The Frontenac Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), alongside Addiction and Mental Health Services of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (AMHS-KFLA) are relaunching a program cut short by the pandemic in March 2020.
In the spring, the innovative, collaborative program saw experienced mental health staff at AMHS-KFLA partner with the Frontenac OPP Detachment to respond to emergency and non-emergency mental health calls in the community, according to a joint release from AMHS-KFLA and the OPP, dated Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.
AMHS-KFLA staff are embedded at the detachment and a Rural Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT)/Transitional Case Manager may ride along or be dispatched to attend to calls with a mental health component alongside officers, according to the release.
This initiative was created to better serve persons suffering with mental health and addiction issues in the Frontenac area. According to the release, rural residents in Frontenac can access collaborative support from policing and mental health support services.
“I am very pleased to welcome the Rural MCRT/ Transitional Case Manager to Frontenac Detachment,” said OPP Staff Sergeant Sharron Brown. “The collaboration with AMHS-KFLA will enhance the response to people suffering from addiction or mental health issues. This allows for more timely access to supports while reducing the need for police involvement. A more care-centred approach will benefit those who need assistance.”
According to the release, this service was launched briefly in March 2020, but delivery was modified to a referral basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both OPP and AMHS-KFLA say they are pleased to have restarted the program to operate at full capacity in September 2020.
Together, the team will stabilize the situation, assess the individual’s needs and determine the supports and services in their community that they would benefit from, rather than taking them to a hospital emergency department, according to the release.
The organizations say the goals of police partnerships with mental health services are to support reductions in the number of mental health apprehensions and reduce the number of police hours spent in the emergency department as well as diverting individuals from emergency services and connecting them to community-based supports.
This program supplements AMHS-KFLA’s other police partnerships currently in place with Kingston Police and Lennox & Addington OPP to enhance the quality of service provided to persons in crisis and provides increased service access and connections to rural residents in KFLA.
“As an organization, we now have in place a third partnership with local policing partners to enhance the care provided to individuals in need of support who come in contact with police,” said Julie Lambert, Program Manager at AMHS-KFLA. “We are excited to be able to bring this type of innovative and integrated care to our rural communities, and better connect individuals to care across our region.”
To date, more than 90 individuals have been supported using the collaborative model in Frontenac.