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Pathway to Wellness: Vancouver Police and health care team up to help people living with mental illness

Vancouver Police today released a new video to highlight the many partnerships and initiatives the Department is involved in to lessen the impact untreated mental illness has on the community, on policing, on health services, and, most importantly, on those living with mental illness.

Pathway to Wellness: Vancouver Police and Health Care Team up to Help People Living with Mental Illness was created with input from Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, and tells the fictional story of John, as he first encounters police while in a mental health crisis. As he moves from the first interaction with police through the complicated and many-layered web of integrated resources available, viewers will come away with a better understanding of how it all fits together.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of life for people living with mental health and addiction issues,” says VPD Superintendent Michelle Davey. “Every person may need a different combination of resources, and we are working with our partners in health care to ensure they receive whatever help is needed.”

One in five Canadians lives with a mental illness, and when untreated, they are 15 times more likely than the general public to be a victim of crime, and 23 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime. They also have a greater chance of contact with police, and of living in a low-income and higher-crime neighbourhood.

“The police are not mental health professionals,” says Chief Constable Adam Palmer. “We recognized early on that we were going to need to collaborate with experts in this area. Our coordinated teams are working together to make a real difference in the lives of people living with mental illness.”

View the video and learn more about the VPD’s Mental Health Strategy.


BACKGROUNDER

VPD AND COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

ASSERTIVE COMMUNITY TREATMENT TEAMS (ACTs) are full-service mental health programs providing “wrap-around” care. The first ACT team was created in January of 2012. The five Vancouver ACT teams are managed by Vancouver Coastal Health, and include 10 to 12 professionals on each team, consisting of psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, vocational counsellors, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, peer counsellors, and police officers.

The teams focus on reducing emergency psychiatric hospital admissions for clients who have long-standing complex mental health issues and who have demonstrated high-risk behaviour. Many also have an extensive history of police involvement. Their goal is to provide longer-term psychosocial support to prepare clients for a successful transition to community-based care. More information

THE ASSERTIVE OUTREACH TEAM (AOT) is a VPD / Vancouver Coastal Health mental health program, which was created in March 2014. The team provides short-term transitional support for clients with moderate to severe substance use and/or mental health issues as they go from hospital or jail to a community service provider. They are often experiencing challenges living in the community, and have a history of police involvement and complex mental health issues.

Team members are psychiatrists, nurses, clinical supervisors, and police officers. During a one- to two-month period, the team connects individuals with their primary care provider and uses a creative and collaborative problem-solving approach. The goal is to reduce incidents of violence and self-harm, prevent further deterioration in their quality of life, and reduce their involvement with the criminal justice system. More information

CAR 87 is a mental health crisis response car that partners a VPD constable with a registered nurse or a registered psychiatric nurse to provide on-site assessments and intervention for people living with mental illness. The nurse and the police officer work as a team in assessing, managing, and deciding the most appropriate action, which may include referrals for community-based mental health follow-up or emergency intervention.

The joint Vancouver Coastal Health-VPD program was created in 1978 and has been adopted globally. More information

THE HUB is an urgent and additional rapid access point for mental health and addictions care in Vancouver, aimed at improving the quality of care, reducing wait times, and supporting a patient’s transition back into the community. More information

THE VANCOUVER POLICE FOUNDATION TRANSITIONAL CARE CENTRE began with a generous donation of $750,000 from the Vancouver Police Foundation. The innovative facility will contact patients with caregivers, reduce hospital wait times, and help provide long-term solutions to the complex challenges associated with mental illness and drug addiction. Once clients are stabilized, they may enter the Transitional Centre, which will fill a critical transition gap by providing an opportunity for in-reach, which may include referrals for housing, other social services, and follow-up care. More information