NewsPenticton mental health response team launched

Penticton mental health response team launched

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In a progressive move towards better utilizing community resources and enhancing public safety, Penticton has introduced the Mobile Integrated Crisis Response (MICR) team. This innovative team comprises mental health professionals and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers working collaboratively to address the mental health component in emergency situations.

Cpl. Dave Smith, overseeing the integrated crisis response team in Penticton, highlighted the existing need for such a service. He emphasized that often, police are called upon for incidents involving individuals in mental health crises, where a police response might not be the most effective solution. The MICR team aims to redirect these cases towards appropriate healthcare services.

Acknowledging the progressive initiatives already underway in Penticton’s mental health and substance use programs, Smith expressed optimism about the MICR team’s contribution to community well-being.

RCMP Superintendent Beth McAndie emphasized the significance of Penticton’s MICR team as a milestone in the community’s commitment to innovative public safety strategies, combining safety and compassion. The team has already demonstrated positive impacts in its early weeks, actively engaging with supportive housing facilities and providing crucial medical referrals.

Working closely with Interior Health, the MICR team has facilitated the normalization of nurses’ presence in and around community shelters, ensuring access to medical care that was previously declined. The team has actively participated in discussions at local high schools regarding mental health and addictions and has been involved in community outreach initiatives.

While the program is not yet 24/7, McAndie stressed the importance of evaluating its impacts over the coming months to determine the right operational hours. The goal is to ensure the program’s sustainability, a process expected to unfold over the next six to 12 months.

Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield commended the program as a significant milestone for the city, aligning with its commitment to becoming a safer and more resilient community.

The MICR initiative received support from the provincial government, with $3 million allocated to launch similar teams in nine communities across British Columbia. Vernon’s team was announced on December 1, 2023, and Penticton’s on January 22, 2024. Additional teams are slated for launch in Westshore, Prince Rupert, Squamish, and the Lower Mainland. Existing MICR teams are already operational in various communities across the province, contributing to enhanced mental health support and public safety.

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