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More mental health support for Vernon

Mobile Integrated Crisis Response team made up of mental health professionals, police officers
Vernon Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu (centre) joins members of Vernon’s new Mobile Integrated Crisis Response (MICR) team, which will help people with mental health and substance abuse issues. (Contributed)

Vernon Monashee’s MLA is grateful that people in crisis due to mental health challenges are now met with care and compassion from trained mental-health professionals in their greatest time of need.

To help people in crisis and to free police resources to focus on crime, a new crisis response team is now in Vernon, and Harwinder Sandhu was on hand for the launch Friday, Dec. 1.

The Mobile Integrated Crisis Response (MICR) team, formerly known as a Car Team, is staffed with mental-health professionals and police officers.

“With the new MICR team in Vernon, individuals in crisis will be met with comprehensive care and a clear path to the support they need,” said Sandhu.

The crisis response teams include health-care workers who can provide immediate support and mental-health assessments to those in crisis and connect people with local resources for ongoing help. This initiative, a collaboration between local law enforcement and health services, strengthens community safety by ensuring a rapid, care-focused response to mental health emergencies, while allowing police to focus on crime.

“When police officers work alongside mental-health experts, it best serves those who are in a moment of crisis or distress,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “By combining front-line workers’ expertise, Vernon’s MICR team is strengthening the ability to respond to public-safety challenges, better protecting communities, while connecting people in crisis to the appropriate services they need, when they need them. This initiative is a crucial component of our ongoing efforts to create a safer, more inclusive province.”

Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown said the authority’s ultimate goal is to foster an inclusive, supportive and understanding environment, where struggling individuals feel empowered to seek help and compassion without fear of judgment or stigma.

“People experiencing a mental-health or substance-use crisis should be met with support and compassion to address their immediate needs and then be connected with appropriate supports to move them toward recovery,” said Brown.

The province has committed $3 million to launch MICR teams in nine communities throughout B.C: Vernon’s announced on Dec. 1, as well as teams upcoming on the Westshore and in Prince Rupert, Squamish and Penticton, and the recently launched Lower Mainland MICR teams operating in Coquitlam/Port Coquitlam, Burnaby, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

Teams are operating in Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Fort St. John, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Victoria, and on the North Shore.

In B.C., one in five interactions with police involve someone with a mental health disorder.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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