Helping police respond to persons with mental illness

Archived Release

Helping police respond to persons with mental illness

Ministry of the Solicitor General

New resource now available for every police service in Ontario TORONTO, May 13 - Police services across Ontario are getting a new tool that will help front-line officers better respond to incidents involving persons with serious mental illness, Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said today. "The police play an important role in responding to and defusing difficult situations and in providing calm support and reassurance. It's appropriate that this excellent new resource for police is being released during Police Week," Kwinter said. The manual, Not Just Another Call . . . Police Response to Persons with Mental Illnesses, complements other policy, education and training efforts by police services in Ontario and is a result of various coroner's inquests recommendations and extensive consultation with those who have first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by police officers when dealing with mentally ill persons. The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police had called for a practical set of guidelines for police when responding to people with mental illness. "Although most people who have a mental illness or addiction problem never come in contact with the police, we know that those who do are most often in crisis," said Dr. Paul Garfinkel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. "We know that the way someone is approached, the way they are spoken to or the use of certain body language can make a big difference in the outcome of the situation. We are pleased to be making a difference for police officers dealing with these situations." "As mental health care providers, we strongly believe these guidelines will make a unique contribution to police efforts and will ensure that police officers have the knowledge and skills to better identify and meet the unique needs of a person with mental illness in crisis," said Sandy Whittall, Integrated Vice-President of Mental Health Programs at St. Joseph's Health Care London. Ron Hoffman of the Ontario Police College (OPC) and Laurel Putnam of St. Joseph's Health Care London co-authored the manual. It was a joint effort among the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, OPC and St. Joseph's Health Care London. The manual can be accessed through the following Web site: oacp@oacp.on.ca Disponible en fran├žais www.mpss.jus.gov.on.caFor further information: Bruce O'Neill, Communications Branch, (416) 326-5005; Sylvia Hagopian, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, (416) 595-6015; Laura Dockstader, St. Joseph's Health Care London, (519) 455-5110, ext. 47368