CMHA Teams Up With Police

The Canadian Mental Health Association of Oxford is going to have crisis workers working alongside local police officers.

OXFORD COUNTY - CMHA Oxford is teaming up with both Woodstock Police and Oxford OPP.

They're introducing the Mental Health Engagement Response Team; also known as MHEART. 
WPS Inspector Paul Hess says they will have mental health professionals out in the field with police officers.

"These individuals will be able to work with us Monday to Friday. They will be in the car riding along with an officer and able to respond immediately to mental health and addictions calls."

The two year pilot program was approved for the Proceeds of Crime Frontline Policing Grant this spring. It allows them to have two full time workers on tap to help police with mental health calls.

But Lynn Wardell, CMHA's Director of Crisis and Outreach, says they will use the money a bit differently.

"We've taken four crisis workers who work full time for us and they're going to be doing part time with police and part time doing crisis work within our original program. They will be back and forth between Woodstock Police and Oxford OPP so there won't be a dedicated person at each location, it will cycle through."

Wardell believes this program will not only help the front line officers, but the rest of the community as well.

"The mental health worker can provide support, de-escalation, follow up referrals, get people connected to different services within the community if that's what they need and utilize the crisis service for Oxford County as well to do follow up work with and follow up support with people after that initial call."

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