Hamilton Police services have taken initiative to address 9-1-1 calls involving mental health cases. Individuals suffering from mental health issues and distress are now handled in a unique way by the Hamilton Police Department to ensure patients receive the assistance they require. Mental health professionals accompany police officers in matters that are suspected to be mental health cases.
The mental health professionals and police officers work together to accommodate mental health patients. The patients choose who they prefer speaking to, the mental health worker or an officer. The choice if often based on level of comfort which allows the patient to be more at ease.
So how effective has this duo been?
This initiative has proved to be effective as less mental health patients are seeing the inside of prison cell, taken into custody and being processed through the criminal justice system. Police officers have admitted that without the accompaniment of a medical care professional they were far more likely to take a mental health patient into custody. Police officers also admit that the number of mental health patients taken into custody has decreased to less than half the number it was prior to presence and assistance of mental health professionals.
Furthermore, officers admitted that this process has not only been effective for patients but also for the officers. Officers suggested that taking a suspected mental health patient into custody under the Mental Health Act often resulted in up to ten hours of waiting in the emergency room for an assessment. Alternatively, the accompaniment of a mental health professional allows officers to skip the wait as the professional can assess if the individual needs medical attention and admit them into an appropriate hospital for medical assistance.
Many people feel this project is long overdue and applaud the idea of social services working alongside police officers to create a more effective justice system.
What do you think of the new program?
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