Cranbrook RCMP’s Mental Health Liaison Officer suggests a recent spike in calls isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The detachment received 25 calls relating to mental health incidents the past two weeks, resulting in four people being apprehended and nine trips to East Kootenay Regional Hospital to assist staff.
Constable Erin Stevenson says the increase in volume could be a result of community partners understanding they can now reach out to the RCMP for support.
She explains it’s possible in the past partners didn’t know who to call or where to go, and didn’t want to bother police, but now that this position is operational it allows her to visit with different services and follow up on clients.
Stevenson believes these new partnerships are part of the reason for the increase and it’s actually a sign of progress.
The corporal points out the Cranbrook detachment’s apprehensions are down and time spent at EKRH has dropped significantly, which was a major concern for them.
She suggests there are great services in the community to help individuals suffering from mental health issues and they are trying to utilize them more efficiently and connect all the dots for employees in different organizations.
Stevenson says they want to use these resources as much as possible to divert clients as they cannot rely on EKRH’s emergency room to be the “catch-all”.
Stevenson took the new role of mental health liaison officer last October to help vulnerable individuals reach the proper resources in community and relieve stress on other officers.
Cranbrook received 460 calls related to mental health incidents in 2016 up from 320 in 2015.
Stevenson also notes that a single volatile patient at EKRH can lead to a rapid increase in mental health calls in a small time frame.
She says a new “seclusion room” coming to the hospital will likely help with these incidents.
– Cranbrook RCMP mental health liaison officer Erin Stevenson
– Josh Hoffman