Surrey RCMP expands specialized mental health unit

THIS week the Surrey RCMP joins organizations and individuals across the country in acknowledging Mental Health Week (May 4-10). Policing one of the largest and most diverse city’s in Canada, the Surrey RCMP is often faced with the realities of mental health issues that exist in our community. In response, the detachment has expanded its Police Mental Health Intervention Unit, which is dedicated to responding to high risk clients with mental health needs.

Last month, the Surrey RCMP’s Police Mental Health Intervention Unit added an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team Constable who will be working with Fraser Health’s two ACT teams. This officer will be engaging in outreach activities with mental health clinicians and concurrent disorder therapists to assist individuals with mental health issues and connects them with the resources they need. The new position will work in conjunction with the unit’s Police Mental Health Liaison Officer, who works with community partners and agencies to provide longer term solutions for individuals with underlying mental health issues who are using significant police resources.

“It is our hope that by expanding the services we provide, we will assist in making Surrey an even healthier community where mental illness is recognized and effectively managed, and not simply ignored,” says Sgt. Holly Turton, Surrey RCMP Vulnerable Person Section.

The Police Mental Health Intervention Unit also includes the Car 67 Program, which has been helping individuals who are in crisis since 2001. A partnership between Surrey RCMP and Fraser Health, the program has a specially trained RCMP member and clinical nurse responding to calls for service involving emotional and mental health issues. In 2014, Car 67 received over 1,800 calls for service and conducted over 600 client assessments.  Due to its longevity and success, the program is now a best practice for other RCMP-policed communities in British Columbia, including Kamloops and Prince George.

“Fraser Health values its ongoing partnership with the Surrey RCMP. For the past 15 years, we have been working collaboratively together to ensure that the needs of people who have mental health and substance issues are met through a compassionate, inclusive and engaging approach. We look forward to the ongoing partnership as we build our second Assertive Community Treatment team in Surrey,” says Brian Jacobson, Fraser Health Program Coordinator, Surrey and Surrey / North Delta Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams.

“This partnership has demonstrated that local issues need to be solved through collaborative community solutions,” notes Turton. “We are pleased that, together with Fraser Health, we can now offer more services to vulnerable Surrey residents.”