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Community Collaboration Leads to Mental Health Response Team

The Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH), along with both the Collingwood / Town of Blue Mountain and the Huronia West detachments of the OPP, and the South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre have partnered together to provide mental health resources and services within the South Georgian Bay region.

women and men standing in a line

Alice Afram, CGMH's Mental Health Crisis worker, along with Shannon Donnelly, Mental Health Response Unit Constable are working collaboratively in the community to provide this joint support. The intended result is the reduction in the criminalization of mental illness via intervention and redirection to the appropriate community supports and the reduction of the number of emergency room visits for non-acute health crises.

"This partnership is an upstream, proactive approach which we hope proves to be beneficial and enhances the experiences and outcomes of individuals with mental health presentations interfacing with the justice system," says Norah Holder, VP and CNE, CGMH.
Huronia West Detachment Inspector Philip Browne and Collingwood / Town of Blue Mountains OPP Detachment Inspector Mary Shannon have been integral to the development and vision of this initiative.

"The partnership is intended to foster a culture of value, innovation and commitment to shared ownership by working to achieve common goals. Together we will provide qualified support for people with mental health and substance abuse challenges, where calls for police service are the community's initial response when a person is in crisis. We will seek opportunities to prevent further crisis via pre-emptive strategies, such as facilitating referrals to community agencies for ongoing support," says Inspector Browne.

Additionally, "The Collingwood / Town of Blue Mountains OPP Detachment is excited with this new partnership. I believe the Mental Health Response Unit will help eliminate barriers associated with mental health and will improve the service delivery for individuals experiencing mental health issues who may come into contact with police or Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. The unit will provide the required care at the right time and will bolster their ability to assist more individuals," says Inspector Shannon.

At this time, funding for the crisis worker role will be provided by the Hospital Foundation through the John C.G. Rykert Family Endowment Fund and the South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre. The project is being trialed on a year-long pilot project, with the hope of expanding it to the three years with additional funding sources.

Photo: Shannon Donnelly, Mental Health Response Unit Constable; Norah Holder, CGMH VP and CNE; OPP Inspector Philip Browne; Alice Afram, CGMH's Mental Health Crisis worker; OPP Inspector Mary Shannon, Heather Klein Gebbinck, Executive Director, South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre. Absent: Collingwood Police Constable, Karen Viragh.

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