A combined mental health and police unit will be patrolling in the Muskoka area in 2019.

The North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) announced the launch of Mobile Response Crisis Teams in all five of its sub-divisions including Muskoka and area. The other sub-divisions include Barrie and area, Couchiching, North Simcoe and Georgian Bay

While police officers are trained in de-escalation, often people they interact with need more care than can be provided during a typical interaction. As a result, these engagements can end in violence, hospitalization and possibly the jail or prison system.

The trained mental health worker will be deployed with a street officer. Together they will meet individuals having a mental health crisis in the community. From there they will attempt to provide a plan of care to get the person the help they need and meet the mental health support workers in the area.

“Following the Mobile Response Crisis Team pilots in Couchiching, Barrie and area, South Georgian Bay, and North Simcoe, we observed a decrease in rates of police apprehension, hospital admission, and Emergency Department visits,” said Chris Brens, Mental Health, and Addictions Lead at the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN. “By strengthening relationships between community mental health agencies and police services, we are able to improve quality and access to an appropriate level of care.”