Ottawa police 2021 budget will include a new mental health response strategy
OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Police Service is developing a new "Mental Health Response Strategy" to build new capacity to deal with mental health issues in Ottawa, including looking at new and enhanced training on mental health for frontline officers.
A report for the Ottawa Police Services Board says the strategy will be included in the 2021 draft budget, adding the current system is not adequately addressing the needs of the community.
"The three-year strategy is designed to build new capacity to deal with mental health issues in Ottawa. It will be developed and co-led in close consultation with our partners in the mental health community," said a report for the Ottawa Police Services Board.
Ottawa police respond to approximately 6,000 calls for service every year involving someone in a mental health crisis.
"We have seen a year-over-year increase in calls for service to police related mental health increase and the current system is not adequately addressing the needs of our community, specifically those who need better access to mental health services," said the report for Monday's board meeting.
Staff note a call may start as a neighbour dispute, but could change to a mental health response, depending on circumstances.
Police say the goal of the new "Mental Health Response Strategy" is to identify better and more coordinated methods to help people in mental health crisis.
The new strategy will focus on four key areas:
- Initial Response
- Improved Screening: Includes placing mental health professional capacity on-site in the 911 communications centre to help determine a response based on their professional experience
- Better follow-up: Police say it will ensure that people with mental health challenges, who come in contact with police services, receive improved accessibility and coordination with appropriate community resources
- Increased training for frontline members: Police say they will identify opportunities for new and enhanced training on mental health for all members in frontline positions.
The Ottawa Police Mental Health Unit officers have specialized training and are paired up with Ottawa Hospital mental health nurses to attend addresses where people are known to have had prior mental health emergency calls.