Let’s Talk – Mental health and crisis response in Kelowna



Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, an important opportunity to raise awareness about mental health in the Community, address stigma, and encourage open dialogue.

Working together, the Kelowna RCMP and Interior Health address the needs of vulnerable people, from providing mental health and substance use services for clients in police custody, to joint efforts to engage with and support people through street level interventions. Interior Health and Kelowna RCMP continue to work together in situations where people who come into contact with police will benefit from a direct connection to IH’s Mental Health and Substance Use services. This work and these connections happen regularly.

One example is the Police and Crisis Team (PACT). Since 2017, Kelowna RCMP officers have been partnering with mental health professionals to provide intervention for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Cst. Dopson and Cst. Fortier are specially-trained officers who work rotating shifts with a Registered Psychiatric Nurse.

The PACT responds to police calls for service that require mental health support. They also respond to calls from various community partners. By having a police officer and nurse attend calls together, the nurse is able to focus on assessing the person in crisis while the officer’s primary role is to maintain the team’s safety and support the clinician. The team is able to work together in supporting the individual and ensuring they receive appropriate follow-up care, bringing them to hospital or connecting them to other supports in the community.

“When we are working with a client who is experiencing a mental health crisis, I’m able to focus on listening to the client, observing their behaviour, and conducting an assessment,” said Nurse Kristina. “The officers I work with ensure the environment around us is safe so we can focus on the task at hand and determine what the next steps should be.”

The officers are aware that people don’t want to see a police uniform and flashing lights in their most vulnerable moments. They do not wear the frontline uniform and the team drives an unmarked police vehicle. When they are not busy responding to calls, the PACT patrols the city to check in on vulnerable individuals in our community.

“Whether it be getting someone connected with social services or finding them a bed at a shelter, this is part of our daily routine,” said Cst. Dopson. “Many of our regular clients have complex needs, and although it’s not a solution, ensuring they have access to supports and somewhere warm to sleep can make a difference in their day”.

The PACT helps children, youth and adults manage a mental health crisis such as:

  • thoughts of suicide
  • distorted or psychotic thinking
  • intense anxiety
  • overwhelming depression
  • feeling unable to cope and out of control

The crisis team will:

  • provide immediate crisis support on an emergency basis
  • assess your situation, current supports, and resources
  • help you access follow-up services
  • consult with your existing supports and services
  • provide short-term crisis management

What happens when someone is apprehended?

In some cases where criteria merits it, individuals are brought to Kelowna General Hospital in a safe and timely manner, to undergo a psychiatric assessment and receive follow-up care.

If you are experiencing mental health concerns, there are a variety of supports and services:

Mental Health & Substance Use Centre                                                  310-MHSU (6478)

Interior Crisis Line                                                                                    1-888-353-2273

KUU-US (Indigenous) Crisis Line                                                             1-800-588-8717

Suicide Hotline                                                                                          1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Interior Health Community Response Team                                             250-212-8533

Kids Help Phone                                                                                      1-800-668-6868

  • Indigenous Help                                                                            1-855-554-4325
  • Text                                                                                               686868

Black Youth Helpline                                                                                833-294-8650

Hope for Wellness Line                                                                           1-855-242-3310 or use their chat function