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More supports coming to Vernon for mental-health, substance-use crises

December 1, 2023 at 12:36 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

To help people in crisis and to free police resources to focus on crime, a new crisis response is now in Vernon.

Vernon has launched a Mobile Integrated Crisis Response (MICR) team, formerly known as a Car Team. This team is staffed with mental-health professionals and police officers to help people in crisis who call police and need appropriate health-care services. 

“When people are in distress because of a mental-health emergency and they call police, we need to take the right steps to provide them with the care they need to stay safe and meet them where they are at,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “With the new Mobile, Integrated Crisis Response team in Vernon, people in crisis will be met with appropriate, compassionate and comprehensive care, and a clear path to the help they need, supporting them on their road to wellness.”

The crisis response teams include health-care workers who can provide immediate support and mental-health assessments to those in crisis and connect people with local resources for ongoing help. This initiative, a collaboration between local law enforcement and health services, strengthens community safety by ensuring a rapid, care-focused response to mental health emergencies, while allowing police to focus on crime.

“When police officers work alongside mental-health experts, it best serves those who are in a moment of crisis or distress,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “By combining front-line workers’ expertise, Vernon’s MICR team is strengthening the ability to respond to public-safety challenges, better protecting communities, while connecting people in crisis to the appropriate services they need, when they need them. This initiative is a crucial component of our ongoing efforts to create a safer, more inclusive province.”

Susan Brown, president and CEO for Interior Health, said: “People experiencing a mental-health or substance-use crisis should be met with support and compassion to address their immediate needs and then be connected with appropriate supports to move them toward recovery. Our ultimate goal is to foster an inclusive, supportive and understanding environment, where individuals who struggle with mental health or substance use feel empowered to seek help and compassion without fear of judgment or stigma.”

Expanding MICR teams is part of the Province’s Safer Communities Action Plan and supports the plan’s goal of creating safe, healthy communities for everyone. This initiative is part of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ historic $1-billion investment through Budget 2023 to urgently expand access to mental-health and addictions care, including increasing early intervention and prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery services, supportive and complex care housing, and more.

Quote:

Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon Monashee –

“I am so grateful that those in crisis due to mental-health challenges will now be met with care and compassion from trained mental-health professionals in their greatest time of need. With the new MICR team in Vernon, individuals in crisis will be met with comprehensive care and a clear path to the support they need.”

Quick Facts:

  • In B.C., one in five interactions with police involve someone with a mental-health disorder.
  • The Province has committed $3 million to launch MICR teams in nine communities throughout B.C: Vernon’s announced on Dec. 1, 2023, as well as teams upcoming on the Westshore and in Prince Rupert, Squamish and Penticton, and the recently launched Lower Mainland MICR teams operating in Coquitlam/Port Coquitlam, Burnaby, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
  • Teams are operating in Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Fort St. John, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Victoria, and on the North Shore.

Learn More:  

To learn more about ways the Province is making communities safer for everyone, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/safer-communities

To learn about mental-health and substance-use supports in B.C., visit: https://helpstartshere.gov.bc.ca/blog/free-or-low-cost-services-bc

To see a PowerPoint presentation about the progress the Province is making in the “Building a Mental Health and Substance Use System of Care” report, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/mental-health/building_a_mental_health_and_substance_use_system_of_care_snapshot.pdf   

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