RCMP hand over the keys to the new VCH-RCMP Richmond mental health car.
Last week, VCH-Richmond Mental Health and Substance Use and the Richmond RCMP made a special announcement at City Hall about a new partnership created to help fill the gap in mental health mobile response in the community: a new mental health car.
Consisting of a Richmond RCMP officer riding alongside a mental health nurse from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)-Richmond, the mental health car, will field calls from dispatch, providing rapid response to mental health crisis and connecting clients with the most appropriate services. The combined experience of an RCMP officer and mental health nurse will greatly help Richmond residents in need of urgent and emergent intervention and treatment in the field.
“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," says Carmen Joost, head mental health nurse at VCH-Richmond. “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."
The program reflects the philosophy that clients should be treated in their home community, and that with early, competent interventions, we can work to reduce unnecessary admissions to emergency departments and provides better service for those who need it. The program will also help to:
prevent unnecessary admission to hospital emergency departments by screening mental health emergencies in the community
provide rapid response to mental health crises
provide clients experiencing a mental health emergency with the least intrusive resolution of an urgent situation
connect clients with the most appropriate services
Mike Tibbles, Richmond resident and mental health patient care advisor knows the importance of a program that meets people where they're at—breaking down barriers so they can access services where and when they need it most.
“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," he says. “Responders that know the mental health system and are able to provide direction will make people calm and feel more safe and secure."
The Car 80 announcement comes on the heels of a new campaign launched earlier this week by the Richmond MHSU team promoting a single phone number—604.204.1111—that Richmond residents can call to be directed to programs and services they need. These added services in our community help us to break down barriers and simply access to mental health programs, so we can ensure the right services are available at the appropriate time, for those who need it. For more information visit vch.ca/richmondmentalhealth.