Blue Line

OPP elevates mental health resources amid COVID-19

November 2, 2020  By The Canadian Press

Since the onset of COVID-19, the Collingwood/TBM OPP Mental Health Response Unit has in-creased its hours to operate six days a week.

“At the start of COVID, through the United Way and then through our local mental health agency, we received additional funding for our mental health crisis worker, which allowed us to elevate our team to be operational six days a week,” said Inspector Mary Shannon, detachment commander for Collingwood/Blue Mountains OPP.

Previously the mental health unit operated five days a week.

The funding will allow the unit to operate at six days a week until mid-December.

According to Shannon, it is unclear at this time if funding will extend beyond that timeframe.

Since the onset of the pandemic, added Shannon, the local detachment has seen, “a continuous in-crease in our calls that are being deferred to our mental health unit.”

From July to September, the Collingwood/TBM OPP Mental Health Unit reports responding to 23 first response calls, 16 home visits, and 77 follow-up phone calls.

At a recently held TBM Police Services Board meeting, Shannon also noted a new mental health pilot project that is currently underway at the OPP’s London Communication Centre.

“That communications centre now has a mental health crisis worker embedded in the centre on eve-ry shift,” she explained. “And so, when calls come in, if there’s no imminent threat of harm to the individual or to the public, the call is immediately diverted to the mental health crisis worker.”

She added that in a number of cases, calls will come into the call centre from individuals more in need of referrals to social services than assistance from OPP officers.

By having additional mental health support at the call centre, these individuals are connected to the services they are in need of in a more efficient manner.

“This new project is just starting, it’s a pilot, so we’re going to look at the data,” Shannon added. “There’s potential that if we see success, that this could be adopted in all of our communication centres.”

– By Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

 The Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020

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