The RCMP and Interior Health are working together to improve response to mental health and substance abuse-related calls. (Black Press file photo)

The RCMP and Interior Health are working together to improve response to mental health and substance abuse-related calls. (Black Press file photo)

RCMP and Interior Health working on mental health response

Groups have met to discuss better handling of mental health and substance abuse-related calls

RCMP leadership in Southeastern B.C. has been meeting with the Interior Health Authority to improve the response to mental-health-related calls to police.

Last fall, senior managers from the RCMP Southeast District met with officials from the health authority and discussions have continued since. According to the RCMP, a working group has been formed to identify issues and challenges related to police interactions with people experiencing mental health or substance abuse crises in the Southern Interior. The groups agreed to create a standardized crisis response and a consistent service model for the communities they serve.

Read More: Police in Penticton need help responding to mental health crises: RCMP Constable

Read More: RCMP brass addresses concerns over recent actions of police in the Southeast District

“My team is fully committed to working with Interior Health on finding solutions together,” said Southeast District commander Supt. Brad Haugli.

“I am encouraged by the fact that the working group will develop a roadmap to guide us on expanding our support and services to our communities, and to those in crisis. This is a priority for all of us.”

The move comes after calls from the public for better police response when it came to wellness calls, most notably in the summer after news broke of UBC Okanagan student Mona Wang being dragged down a hallway and stomped on by an officer during a wellness check. Wang filed a civil lawsuit against the officer, which publicized a video of the incident in June 2020.

Shortly after, Hauglicalled for the expansion of crisis teams, allowing more nurses to respond alongside officers to mental-health calls. Interior Health denied those initial requests stating scarce resources were better utilized elsewhere.

According to an RCMP statement, the development of the shared response is now in its early stages.

“Interior Health welcomes the opportunity to work closely with our RCMP colleagues to support people in crisis,” said Roger Parsonage, interim vice president, Interior Health.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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