June 14th, 2024

LPS improving mental health and addictions approach with partnership

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 26, 2022.

Submitted photo Police and Crisis Team members from left to right: LPS Cst. Tyler Boras, AHS Mental Health Therapist Sid Wolfe, AHS Mental Health Therapist Marco Ander, and LPS Cst. Derek Williamson

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Service has partnered up with Alberta Health Services to better serve those in the community with mental health and addictions issues.
The initiative consists of teaming an LPS constable with an AHS mental health therapist. A second Police and Crisis Team (PACT) is taking part of the partnership which was first established in 2018.
This partnership allows frontline LPS officers to focus on other calls for service.
The second PACT pairing added in August of 2021 has allowed more clients with mental health and addictions issues to be connected with the proper support services.
Cst. Derek Williamson, one of two LPS officers with PACT, believes it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“With the addition of a second team we are now able to offer follow up and bridge therapy to clients until other mental health services and connections can be made,” said Williamson in a press release.
He added that prior to PACT, frontline patrol officers were assigned all mental health calls, which would often tie them up for hours of a shift.
The Police and Crisis Team is called out by patrol officers when dealing with a client who would benefit from being connected, or re-connected, with community-based resources including mental and physical health supports, housing and financial assistance.
The team also receives calls from other community agencies and can monitor individuals in the short-term until they have connected with appropriate services.
The number of interventions by PACT has increased every month since the inception of the second team. Between November of 2021 and February of 2022, a total of 215 files were handled, as compared to 64 files through the same timeframe a year earlier, with just one team.
“We have a very successful relationship with the Lethbridge Police Service,” says Paul Weiss, Director for Addiction and Mental Health Community Based Services South Zone in a press release.
He said the added resource has provided more opportunities for Addiction and Mental Health services to be provided in the community, as well as helping individuals make connections to other teams and programs.
The wait times for officers at the hospital has been reduced due to the connections the mental health therapists have and their ability to call ahead to the psychiatric team at the hospital.
The Lethbridge Police Service is providing all police officers with two additional tools to better understand and respond to mental health calls. The HealthIM and the “Brain Story Certification”.
The HealthIM digital platform, will be launched this spring and will provide officers with a pre-response safety briefing and support their assessment on whether a person should be transported to a designated facility for evaluation.
The ‘Brain Story Certification,’ is an online resource that provides LPS officers with knowledge on brain development and the effects that stress and adverse experiences can have on physical and or mental health.

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