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Review to look at mental illness crises response

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five people will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. That number can be as high as one in three depending on where you live.

To help, a Police and Crisis Team was launched in Grande Prairie in 2009. RCMP Superintendent Don McKenna says it’s made a huge difference in the community.

“I could tell you lots of stories where having the psychiatric nurse come to the call has been instrumental at resolving the issues. We have people in mental health crisis and police officers don’t have nearly the training that a psychiatric nurse would have.”

Right now, there are two teams of RCMP officers with enhanced training and registered psychiatric nurses that respond when someone is going through a mental health crisis. The program will be undergoing a review over the next two years, thanks to a $232,500 research grant given to Grande Prairie Regional College.

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Leading the investigation is GPRC Psychology Instructor and Project Principal Investigator Doctor Connie Korpan. In partnership with the City of Grande Prairie and Alberta Health Services, she says they’ll be speaking with everyone from first responders and local agencies to clients.

“Whether it’s due to a mental disorder, substance use or abuse, or some situational stress, we’re going to get as much information as we can from as many stakeholders. The recommendations will come out of it as to how to change processes, training, and how groups can work together better.”

In addition the plan is to also develop a system for ongoing evaluations and a guide to share with other RCMP crisis teams. A report is expected in two years.

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