Blue Line

Features Holding the Line
Collaborative partners in mental health


May 4, 2021
By Michelle Vincent

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Credit: JELENA/ADOBE STOCK

In policing, we have various partners that support the delivery and execution of our mental health resources. We have peer support and critical incident stress management. We have a human resource team and some organizations and associations also have their own in-house psychological team. More recently, some have even added another component to their mental health team by hiring companies that support and aid in the process of assessing which mental health resources might be necessary and fit best within the organization and for their members. While many organizations have worked to implement mental health programs, gaps in connecting the appropriate resources to members persist.

Recognizing these challenges, one organization has created a service platform that fills many of these existing gaps. Dalton Associates is a mental health group that has gone above and beyond in their goal of bringing greater accessibility to quality, safe and timely psychological and mental health services. The goal is to provide clients with a individualized, client-centric and culturally-attuned approach with the purpose and goal of supporting first responders in coping with complex mental health challenges that require longer-term interventions.

Dalton has also customized their approach to program development, specifically with first responder groups in an effort to dissolve any limitations that may exist. The needs of the members, the organization and their communities are all considered. Their care navigation/management team is also implemented to ensure they don’t duplicate existing services and avoid “siloing” services further. Their care managers specialize in navigating and customizing plans of support specifically for first responders. So, to ensure optimal results, they work with the clients for the entirety of their time in the program. The care managing process becomes an intervention in and of itself, and the clients become part of that operational team of mental health supports.

So, what does this type of team access mean for first responder organizations and associations? We know that navigating members to mental health supports when someone is struggling with various mental and social challenges often adds to the distress they are experiencing—actually, this is difficult to navigate even for those who are well.

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Care navigation is a unique, wraparound solution that takes the guesswork and legwork off the member’s shoulders to ensure they are being provided with the care they need, virtually eliminating barriers to service. From an organizational perspective, it means those organizations and associations are committed to delivering leading, cutting edge mental health care to their members. Through clear action, it shows their members they are valued.

“Care navigation is a unique solution that takes that guesswork and legwork off the member’s shoulders to ensure they are going to get the care they need, virtually eliminating barriers to service.”

First responders who feel they are valued and supported from a social perspective have a much lower risk of experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than members who do not feel supported and/or valued. Providing this concierge approach speaks volumes and becomes an insurance of sorts for if and/or when we need mental health care.

Approaching mental health for first responders and uniform personnel takes a committed, collaborative team to be successful. That team should be comprised of first responders, mental health organizations (both inpatient and outpatient), psychoeducational trainers, licensed psychologists and psychotherapists who are culturally and occupationally trained to work with police. Outside agencies such as Dalton Associates are equipped to put the individual needs of the members together with a detailed plan and adequate/suitable support team.

“My hope is that our first responders get help that works for them, wherever that might be,” said Carl Dalton, registered social worker and CEO of Dalton Associates. “In response to the mental health crisis that our province and country are experiencing, a collective response is required. A centralized care management system that integrates and navigates to the very best mental health services available, customizes an approach for every individual and ensures against siloing services has proven to be an effective strategy to respond to this crisis. This strategy also ensures services work collectively, instead of in competition.”

As a retired police officer and founder/director of The Haven, Ontario’s only non-profit, occupational- specific, inpatient treatment centre exclusive to first responders and uniform personnel, working day and night with my dedicated team, I echo Mr. Dalton’s inspired words. It’s not only important, it’s necessary as we work to learn, grow and serve together.


Michelle Vincent is a retired York Regional Police officer and the founder of The Haven, Ontario’s first non-profit, inpatient treatment centre exclusive to first responders and uniform personnel. Contact her at michelle.vincent@@thehaven.cloud.