Mental health workers teaming up with police to help those in need

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A mental health nurse from the local Canadian Mental Health Association will work at the OPP detachment in Petrolia starting .

The job is part of a new program to help police officers help people with mental health issues.

Bluewater Health, the OPP, Sarnia Police and CMHA have set up a team called M-HEART – Mental Health Engagement and Response Team. Alan Stevenson, CEO of CMHA in Lambton-Kent, says mental health nurse will be going out with OPP officers in the county to make contact with people who might have mental health problems.

“There is a lot more focus on not just responding to crisis but engaging people before crisis to hopefully prevent a crisis or at least deescalate faster,” says Stevenson.

The idea is to work with them to find the help they need before there is a problem. CMHA already helps the OPP talk to those with mental health problems in emergency situation.

The M-HEART team was announced today by the Minister of Health Christine Elliott. She was in Sarnia to talk about the new guidelines set up in Sarnia which allow police officers a clear, easy path to bring people with mental health issues into the hospital and into the care of health professionals quickly. Right now, Elliott says, officers can wait with a mental health patient eight hours before getting service.

“The police-hospital transition framework will ensure that individuals in crisis receive care faster and police to get back on the streets sooner, keeping our communities safe,” says Sylvia Jones, the province’s Solicitor General.

Read more about the program in the Aug. 14th edition of The Independent