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Ontario to expand use of mobile crisis teams to help first responders

Last Updated May 6, 2019 at 11:19 am EDT

Ontario is planning to expand the use of mobile crisis intervention teams that help first responders, and increase mental health supports in schools.

Health Minister Christine Elliott highlighted an investment Monday of $174 million this year from her government’s recent budget for community mental health and addictions services, mental health and justice services, supportive housing, and acute mental health inpatient beds.

“Within that strategy we will create integrated, wrap-around services so people don’t have to be in crisis to find timely access to service,” she said.

The government intends to invest in new mobile crisis teams to help police officers and other first responders assist people with severe mental illness, Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced.

“There are some pilots that have been occurring in smaller communities across Ontario and they have proven to be very successful, so we’re going to be expanding that model,” Jones said.

The government’s investments include nearly $30 million for child and youth mental health services, and $27 million for mental health supports in the education system, Elliott said.

Mental health workers will be placed in secondary schools so youth can have access to early intervention, she said. The former Liberal government had promised in its last budget to give every high school mental health supports by 2020.

After the recent budget was released, Children’s Mental Health Ontario said the $174 million doesn’t reflect an increase in funding, which it said was “immediately needed.”

“There are long wait lists across the province for child and youth mental health which is placing a strain on mental health service providers, hospitals, and the families turning to them for care,” said CEO Kim Moran said last month.

Elliott said problems have been building for years, and it will take time to fix them.

Watch the full announcement below.