People in a mental-health or substance-use crisis will have the support of experts as new mobile, integrated-response teams are coming to nine communities throughout the province.
To help people in crisis and to free up police resources to focus on crime, the province is expanding Mobile Integrated Crisis Response (MICR) Teams (also known as Car programs) to Abbotsford, Port Coquitlam/Coquitlam, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Penticton, Vernon, Squamish, Prince Rupert and the Westshore.
“When people are in crisis because of mental-health challenges, we want them met with compassion and appropriate care,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We are expanding crisis-response teams across the province to ensure that at their most vulnerable time, people in distress in our communities receive a health-focused response and connections to the services and supports they need on their pathway to well-being.”
MICR Teams are specialized crisis-response teams that pair a police officer with a health-care professional to respond to mental-health calls made to the police. Teams provide on-site emotional and mental-health assessments, crisis intervention and referrals to appropriate services in the community. Built on partnerships between municipal police departments or local RCMP detachments and the regional health authorities, these teams help free up police resources to focus on crime.
“Our government is taking action on the biggest challenges we face to keep people and communities healthy and thriving,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We have heard from many police departments and health authorities that currently run Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Teams that the programs are extremely helpful - and the demand is growing. Expanding the MICR Teams program will help connect more people in crisis with the appropriate supports and services they need.”
The province has committed $3 million to help fund their implementation throughout B.C. With communities now selected, health authorities and local police will begin planning together to recruit staff and put services in place as quickly as possible.
Tina Baker, a registered psychiatric nurse with the Car 67 program, says the partnerships are beneficial to clients during crisis.
“We can give 100% of our care and attention to the client, knowing that police are there to keep us and clients safe. I am thrilled more communities will soon have this program.”