Street-level help for mental health and substance abuse in Kelowna - InfoNews

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Street-level help for mental health and substance abuse in Kelowna

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March 28, 2017 - 3:01 PM

KELOWNA – A new partnership between Kelowna RCMP and Interior Health will provide better help for those struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.

The Police and Crisis Team or PACT is a mobile health and substance use intervention group includes a dedicated psychiatric nurse as well as a specially-trained RCMP officer who conduct street level patrols and respond to calls, according to a media release from Interior Health.

“The team will assess needs and connect the person in crisis with appropriate services with a goal to reduce repeat visits to the local emergency department, as well as reduce repeat calls to the police,” the release says.

Kelowna’s RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle says police recognize the value of taking the time to talk with the person in distress, to ask the right questions and to listen.

“Combined with the expertise of a mental health nurse, it is anticipated this new PACT program will provide an enhanced service to people in distress and, ultimately, offer them a high degree of patience, care and compassion," Mundle says in the release.

Training for the program began earlier this month and on Monday, March 27, the first team entered service. PACT will provide roadside triage and assessment as well as offer a broader range of options besides hospitalization. The person in crisis may be referred to a family doctor, the Community Health and Services Centre, or if the situation is urgent, to a hospital.

“This will ultimately help reduce pressures on the busiest emergency department within Interior Health and more importantly, provide immediate necessary supports and attach individuals to appropriate mental health, substance use and community resources," Interior Health board chair John O’Fee says in the release.

Last year there were more than 4,000 mental health and substance use admissions to Kelowna General Hospital’s emergency department.

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