May 6, 2019
Mental health and addictions crisis support available through emergency services in York Region
York Support Services Network (YSSN), in collaboration with York Regional Police and The Regional Municipality of York’s Paramedic Services, have added a second Mental Health Support Team (MHST) to their roster of York Region crisis services.
The two teams, now serving both northern and southern York Region, offer support to individuals who call emergency services and are experiencing a mental health and/or addiction crisis.
The teams, which consist of a York Regional Police plain-clothes officer and YSSN crisis response worker, arrive on scene to help individuals in distress. York Region Paramedics, who may already be on scene to provide medical care, ensure the crisis worker is given time to complete their assessments, once paramedics have dealt with any immediate medical concerns.
“The addition of this extra team couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Jean West, Director of Mental Health Services at YSSN. “Our initial team has had an immense impact in the community, serving 851 individuals from Central and Southern York Region last year. Adding another team will help us support even more individuals in need.”
Once the crisis has been stabilized, the team also provides follow-up support. Funding for the new team has been provided through the Central Local Health Integration Network.
“The care provided by the Mental Health Support Team to people in crisis in our region has made a significant impact on the outcomes in these situations,” said Chief Eric Jolliffe. “With this funding from the Central Local Health Integration Network, along with the assistance and partnership of YSSN and York Region Paramedic Services, we will be able to increase our ability to respond quickly and compassionately to members of our community in need, in crisis or dealing with mental health issues.”
In 2018, York Regional Police received 5,042 calls related to individuals experiencing emotional distress.
A York Region resident recounts her experience with the team when her brother was dealing with a crisis “…they [MHST team] listened to my needs, in what was a very stressful situation, offered insight to the process and systems and provided expert advice and assistance. My family, along with the team, police officers and paramedics persuaded my brother to go to the hospital for much needed help with his mental health issues. After a very long stay at the hospital my brother was discharged…he is on medication, seeing his psychiatrist and coping extremely well.”
The new team will cover Northern York Region, which includes the communities of Aurora, Newmarket, King, Whitchurch-Stouffville, East Gwillimbury and Georgina. The teams operate 12 hours per day, 7 days per week.