Sudbury police gets new mental health team

Last June, the Greater Sudbury Police Service added a Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team to deal with an ever increasing number of mental health calls and it is now being expanded.

The new pilot project teams up a specialized mental health nurse with a police officer to get people the help they need, and in some cases, divert people from the justice system or going to the hospital unnecessarily.

"We get the majority of these calls, they are not really a police matter and we don't have the tools to necessarily deal with some of the vulnerable people in our community, some of the things that are going on in their life or refer to them to where they need to go," said Sgt. Matt Hall.

"So having this person from (Health Sciences North) being able to be a better tool for our toolbox."

The new team started May 1.

"To have a dedicated team that will be able to mange these calls while minimizing the impact on the individual who is receiving the services as well as the system," said a clinical manager at HSN.

Sudbury police said in March 2022, there were 90 calls for service that had a mental health component. Of the people involved, 55 per cent had previous contact with police in the last 30 days.

"With this new team that is dedicated to work within the community, they can go out and do proactive stuff. Check on these individuals, see how they are doing, making sure they are keeping up with their appointments, their medications, doing any referrals in the community that is needed at that time for that individual where they might be falling through the gaps," Hall said.

While the project is temporary, officials hope it will become permanent.

"So for instance, engaging with individuals prior to their mental health or circumstances becoming worse or before their situation becomes a crisis type situation," Jason Seguin, a coordinator at HSN, said.

The project recently received over $100,000 in provincial funding to create the team.