Interim Staff Sergeant for the Huntsville Detachment of the OPP Derek Oates and Officer Dana Morris, as well as Parry-Sound Muskoka Canadian Mental Health Association Counsellor Jen Nicholson, were before Lake of Bays Council at their January 9 meeting to share with them news of the expansion of the Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) program.
The MRTC program is a partnership between the OPP and Canadian Mental Health Association. An officer and a mental health crisis worker will attend to calls related specifically to mental health/addiction issues. Before, there was just one team covering all of Muskoka but a second team has since been added, said Morris.
Council heard that the teams attempt to build personal relationships with those at risk in the community in order to connect them with available services and keep them out of hospital when possible, as well as helping decrease calls to the OPP by interacting with the MCRT and other community resources directly.
Although the program only runs from 8 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, team members told councillors there is a 24-hour crisis hotline. They also noted that if an incident occurs after hours, the MCRT will follow up.
The MCRT also carries Naloxone kits.
Councillors welcomed the news but expressed concern that the team is not available at night and on weekends, which are likely the busiest times. Lake of Bays Mayor Terry Glover questioned whether the Township could lobby for more funding for the program.
“I’m deeply concerned with the way health care goes with regards to funding. This is something that’s really great and I see the relief for our hospitals that are already over utilized and it’s important that we address it early instead of later …,” said Glover.
Further discussions are expected to take place on the issue to help the Township lobby for more program funding.
A similar presentation was made at the District of Muskoka but Glover said he wanted all councillors, staff, and residents of Lake of Bays to be aware of the program “because we know mental health is something we need to address and put more and more effort into.”
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