Richmond, B.C. – Calls to Richmond RCMP regarding mental health and substance use are on the rise — exceeding growth rates and capacity for police in the region. To increase timely intervention and help provide support to Richmond residents when and where they need it, Richmond RCMP and Vancouver Coastal Health have joined forces to launch a new Mental Health Car.
This new unit consists of a Richmond RCMP officer riding alongside a mental health nurse from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). The combined experience of a specially trained Richmond RCMP officer and mental health nurse will greatly help Richmond residents in need of timely mental health assessment in the community. The Mental Health Car will field calls from dispatch and may be referred by VCH, providing rapid response to mental health crises and connecting people with the most appropriate services.
Over the course of the past several years, the Richmond RCMP has seen the number of mental health related calls for service rise. These types of calls can be some of the most complex that an officer may encounter. There are instances where little background is known about the person in crisis and intervention is required to help them access support and prevent harm. In other instances, individuals may be well known to police and would benefit from an established relationship with specially-trained professionals.
The program reflects the philosophy that people should be treated in their home community and that with early, competent intervention we can connect them with the right supports and reduce the need for 911 emergency response and unnecessary emergency department admissions. The Richmond RCMP is proud to serve the community of Richmond. This partnership is a progressive approach to achieving those goals.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and long-term care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. VCH also provides specialized care and services for people throughout BC, and is the province’s hub of health care education and research.
2019 (projected) 2267
-Source: Richmond RCMP
“This partnership will build valuable bridges to care for people who need mental health and substance use supports in Richmond. It is another shining example of first responders and health care professionals coming together to connect people to supports where and when they need them.” –Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
“The City of Richmond is pleased to support this important program. Mental health knows no cultural or socio-economic boundaries so it is essential that we give the Richmond RCMP and VCH the specialized tools necessary to respond safely and effectively to those in need. The Mental Health Car – a first for Richmond – will ensure that people experiencing high-risk challenges related to mental illness are connect to the right types of support in a timely manner.” –Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie
“The Mental Health Car is a true collaboration between Vancouver Coastal Health and the Richmond RCMP. This specialized team will not only decrease calls for police service over time, but has been formed to enhance the mental health outreach service to the Richmond community and help clients struggling with mental health crisis to access the services they need in a timely and efficient way.” –Superintendent Will Ng, Officer in Charge, Richmond RCMP
“The Mental Health Car can be a first contact for people who are in crisis. With a mental health professional on board, we’re able to support Richmond RCMP officers in the community and work together on the best way to respond to people from a health perspective. The Richmond RCMP officers and nurses in the Mental Health Car will be able to do assessments in the field, connect people with services and build relationships that result in better and more consistent care.” –Carmen Joost, head nurse, Vancouver Coastal Health
“When you’re in crisis, you’re not able to advocate for yourself, so having the presence of medical professionals and police who have been specially trained to work with people who have mental health challenges will make a world of difference. Responders that know the mental health system and are able to provide direction will make people calm and feel more safe and secure.” –Mike Tibbles, Richmond resident and mental health patient care advisor
Richmond RCMP Media Liaison Officer
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Public Affairs Specialist
Vancouver Coastal Health