London, Ont. –
Different health care providers are joining forces with the London Police Service (LPS) to help people with mental health problems avoid crisis situations.
The Outreach and Community Support Team, or COAST for short, is a one-year pilot project.
Last year, LPS participated in more than 3,500 mental health appeals and around 750 people were arrested under the Mental Health Act.
LPS Superintendent Bill Chantler says they aim to reduce unnecessary interactions between officers and people with mental health or addiction issues.
“The COAST program aims to reduce the need for police intervention by frontline officers,” Chantler said. “And the way they do that is that they’ve identified a number of people who live in the community with significant mental health issues and reached out to them to help them navigate the system and make sure. that they receive the support and services that they need health care.
Deb Gibson is Director of Mental Health Services at St. Joseph’s Health Care, and they are also part of the team, along with the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service, the Elgin-Middlesex Canadian Mental Health Association and the police.
“It’s proactive, connecting people, reconnecting people to care, to avoid these crisis situations,” says Gibson. “The COAST model provides a missing link within our community for those we collectively serve. “