Often for people supporting a friend or family member living with mental illness in crisis, when they have exhausted what resources are available, calling the police to attend may be the only option left untried to help the person in distress.
In some jurisdictions, like Vancouver, Surrey, Kamloops, and Kelowna, there are teams of psychiatric nurses and police officers who will attend when safe. In other jurisdictions there are mental health liaison officers who work with people in the community to help those looking for extra mental health assistance from the police.
Our upcoming guest on “Look Again: Mental Illness Re-Examined,” Sgt. Cara Thompson from the Surrey RCMP Mental Health Outreach Team provides some information for families to consider before a crisis hits:
- The RCMP encourages people to call through 911 or non emergency if they require assistance.
- If a family feels like they may need that extra mental health assistance from police, call their local detachment, ask if they have a Mental Health Liaison Officer and try to contact that person to discuss what assistance they may need.
- The Mental Health Liaison Officer may decide to create a file, or suggest that if there is a crisis to call 911.
- Each The response is all dependant on where the person lives. I.e., in Surrey, they don’t keep files open to monitor people living with mental illness who have frequent police contacts; however, a smaller detachment may have that service.