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Help with crisis calls making an ‘Impact’ in Prince Edward County

The pairing of mental health workers and police officers to respond to crisis calls for assistance is making an ‘impact’ in Prince Edward County.

The successes of a new program started last summer, called Integrated Mobile Police and Co-Response Team (IMPACT) were shared by Sandi LeBlanc-DiCresce, program manager, and Derek McGeachy, director of clinicial services at Addictions and Mental Health Services, during council’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Thursday.

In his 2022 year-end police report to the board Monday, Prince Edward OPP Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant John Hatch said the program has revolutionized policing here – giving people the help they need from professionals and also frees up officer time for their own duties.

“IMPACT is designed to deliver addictions and mental health support and co-response alongside police on calls for service where such support may assist in reducing harm and assisting persons in crisis,” said McGeachy. “We are doing this across Hastings Prince Edward. We’re always mindful of the fact that our communities are experiencing challenges that are fluid, dynamic, and widespread.”

IMPACT has been operating in PEC since July 24, 2022 adds LeBlanc-DiCresce, introducing INPACT team members at Prince Edward OPP, Lindsay Ferguson and Hayley Martin and transitional worker Shreya Deshpande.

To date, they have attended to 88 calls with police, dealt with 180 after-the-fact referrals, plus more than 200 outreach assistance calls and officer or staff consultation. They also help people gain access to services, provide support in hospital, connect to resources and deliver transitional case management services.

“They meet people where they are, working with an OPP officer” she added. “Most people tend to be receptive… interested, open and willing to get that help, new connections,” including some who have fallen through the cracks or don’t have a doctor, or lack transportation… the best reasons to meet people where they are.”

IMPACT also assists with officer debriefing, training for police and confidential support to OPP members (all personnel, not just officers) and is documented anonymously – for 263 people so far. It also share resources, with more than 100 family members, caregivers and friends.

Like all services at the Canadian Mental Health Association Hastings Prince Edward, IMPACT is a voluntary program people can access when needed.

Addictions and Mental Health Services Hastings Prince Edward and police partners in the region received just over $1 million in one-time funding in 2021 to support the creation of IMPACT with Belleville Police Service; OPP at Quinte West, Prince Edward, Central Hastings and Bancroft as well as in Canadian Mental Health Association offices. Funding continues from the Ministry of Health.

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