OPP, CMHA celebrate one-year anniversary of IMPACT

One year ago, Wellington County OPP and the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW) signed a landmark agreement to kick off the new Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team (IMPACT).

CMHA and OPP officials say the “collaborative response model,” which was unveiled on Dec. 16, 2015 and is one of the first of its kind in the province, is “an enormous success.”

The program, funded by the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integrated Network, enables specially-trained clinicians to attend mental health-related calls alongside Wellington OPP officers.

The goal of the program is to ensure residents in the county have better health outcomes by receiving the most appropriate community-based crisis response at the time of need.

Officials say the enhanced service improves the experience of residents and their families by providing an immediate and comprehensive crisis response in their home and/or community.

Residents also benefit from less intrusive service interventions by reducing the need for emergency room and hospital involvement, officials added.

To date, the IMPACT team has provided support to over 289 individuals.  This includes live calls for service and “after the fact” referrals.

IMPACT workers received more than one referral a day from OPP officers, amounting to 462 total referrals.

They have also provided over 70 hours of community-based education and training to stakeholders and care providers in the community.

The team has also assisted in providing timely compassion fatigue support services to frontline emergency responders, officials say.

“The results of this partnership have far exceeded our expectations in the first year of operation,” said OPP Inspector Scott Lawson.

“The results truly speak to the benefits that our community have realized through this strategic partnership including our own local police officers, who by working alongside these specially trained clinicians, have a better sense of the complexities and supports necessary to assist those in-need.

“We are very, very proud of what has been accomplished. IMPACT have become an integral and vital part of our daily work.”

Helen Fishburn, interim senior director of services for IMPACT, said, “Our first year of service … has achieved the goals that we had hoped for.

“By having our mental health team work hand in hand with our OPP police team, people who are experiencing significant mental health and addiction challenges are able to get immediate assessment and support where and when they need it.  

“This has lead to very positive health outcomes for the people involved, and it has also contributed to a significant decrease in the number of presentations to hospital by police. We are thrilled that our partnership has worked so well for the people who need it most, as well as created more efficiencies in our health care system.

“Our sincere thanks to all members of our team who work so hard each and every day to meet the needs in our rural community.”