Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes this week launched the OPP Mental Health Strategy: Our People, Our Communities, a comprehensive and integrated approach to improving the response to the mental health needs of OPP members and the individuals they serve.
“How do we encourage our people to be, and remain, resilient? How can we improve outcomes when police interact with people with mental health issues? These are just some of the important questions addressed in the OPP’s Mental Health Strategy,” said Hawkes at a media conference. “By placing a high value on supporting the health and wellness of our own members, the OPP will be in the best possible position to deliver services to people in our communities with mental health issues.”
The OPP Strategy has two related but distinct components – Supporting Our People: Healthy Workforce and Supporting Our Communities: Police Interactions with People with Mental Health Issues.
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi expressed his support: “Our government believes that improving interactions between police and vulnerable individuals is vitally important and a key part of our Strategy for a Safer Ontario. The OPP’s new Mental Health Strategy reflects that focus and I commend them for their work to increase opportunities for early intervention and improve outcomes for both OPP officers and the public they serve.”
The 15 priorities for action include the: expansion of mental health education and training for officers; increased capacity in the OPP Critical Incident Stress Response Team/Peer Support Program; improved data collection and on-going program evaluation; the development of transfer of care protocols (from police to health care provider); the facilitation of the development of police/mental health collaborative response models; and increased early referrals from police to mental health services.
At the news conference, Hawkes said the Strategy was the result of extensive work by the OPP which included research on best practices and broad stakeholder consultation.
A complete text of the Strategy, along with related materials, can be found on the OPP website at http://www.opp.ca/ecms/index.php?id=584