Author Topic: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"  (Read 8178 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline S.M.A.

  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *****
  • 132,380
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 6,530
National Post link

Quote
Vancouver's mayor and chief of police are sounding the alarm about a mental health crisis.

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Chief Jim Chu held a news conference Friday to plead with the B.C. and federal governments for more resources to deal with people suffering from severe, untreated mental illness.

Police, often the front-line people in dealing with mentally disturbed people, see a growing problem, Chu said in a news release.

“The police are becoming the first point of contact for those who are severely mentally ill, and that is wrong," the chief said. "These people require health care, support, and medical treatment, not the criminal justice system."

“The police should not, and cannot, continue to be the first point of contact," added Robertson, who also chairs the Vancouver Police Board. "Lives are being put at risk and we need senior levels of government to step up and provide the resources they are responsible for.”

The mayor and chief made their comments as the VPD issued an updated version of its 2010 report on the growing failure of the mental health system to deal with the problem, creating a drain on police resources.

"Recently there has been a worrisome increasing trend in persons exhibiting signs and symptoms of mental illness," says the report's executive summary.

"Within the past three years, the emergency department at St. Paul’s Hospital [which serves downtown Vancouver] has seen a 43 per cent increase in individuals with severe mental illness and/or addiction.

"Similarly, the VPD has experienced a significant increase in the number of section 28 Mental Health Act apprehensions. Between 2010 and 2012, section 28 apprehensions have increased by 16 per cent. It is expected that this trend will worsen in 2013 as year-to-date apprehensions have increased by 23 per cent.

"Furthermore, mental illness is believed to contribute to 21 per cent of incidents handled by VPD officers and 25 per cent of the total time spent on calls where a report is written."


The report says in the 1990s, the police department had the equivalent of 1.5 full-time employees assigned to deal with those suffering from mental illness and addiction. This year, it's more than 17 full-time employees.

When it comes to violent crime involving the mentally ill, the VPD said it has dealt with 96 serious incidents since January 2012, with the frequency of such calls increasing, the report says. Cases include an elderly woman being stomped on the head, several stabbings, including a man randomly eviscerated in front of a movie theatre, and assaults on children as young as three.

As recently as July, a man ran into a crowd of people leaving a Vancouver comedy show and opened fire with a handgun before shooting himself, the Vancouver Sun reported.

The issue of police being forced to confront people with mental health problems is by no means limited to Vancouver.


The shooting death of Sammy Yatim on an empty Toronto streetcar in July was perhaps an extreme example of the problem. The knife-wielding teenage immigrant for Syria died after refusing police commands to drop the small blade.

The Toronto Star noted the police's specialized mobile crisis-intervention team was not on duty at time, and that critics have pointed to several deaths of mentally ill persons armed with knives. The province's Ombudsman is investigating Ontario's policy on police training to de-escalate incidents involved disturbed people.

The Toronto Police Department's report this year on dealing with the emotionally disturbed said officers were dispatched on more than 19,000 such calls in 2011 and apprehended more than 8,600 people under the Mental Health Act.

It's a tiny fraction of total police encounters, the report says, and those thousands of calls resulted in two deaths and 62 serious injuries, figures the report paints in a positive light.

"These data demonstrate that in the overwhelming percentage of cases, officers are successful in resolving incidents safely and without resorting to apprehension or force," the report says.

The VPD report recommends governments fund 300 additional long-term and secure mental health treatment beds, more staffing at BC Housing sites to support tenants with psychiatric issues, more community outreach directed at released psychiatric patients and better urgent care for people in crisis.

"The VPD is too often responding to emergency calls involving persons experiencing a mental health crisis," the report says. "Often, the behaviour is criminal which results in the arrest and prosecution of mentally ill offenders.

"All stakeholders must shift from responding to the crisis to preventing the crisis from occurring in the first place."

Robertson, Chu and the head of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority wrote last month to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, a former Vancouver councillor, about their concerns but say they have not yet received a reply, the Vancouver Sun reported.

"[The crisis is] one that we have grappled with for a number of years, but it has escalated to the point that we need to go public and state clearly that, today, Vancouver is embroiled in a public health crisis due to untreated, severe mental illness," Robertson told the news conference, according to the Sun.


Our Country
--------------------------------
"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."   - Lao Zi (老子)
-------------------------------------------
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
- Winston Churchill

Offline Robert0288

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • 22,167
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 493
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2013, 22:44:26 »
What causes a 43% jump in patients in 3 years?

Offline Rider Pride

  • Mentor
  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *
  • 29,358
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 4,823
  • Easy to draw, hard to spell
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2013, 01:00:25 »
Lets smoke some more weed.

It's harmless.

 :facepalm:
"Return with your shield, or upon it."

Offline Hamish Seggie

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 220,872
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 10,125
  • This is my son Michael, KIA Afghanistan 3 Sep 08
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2013, 07:23:23 »
Mental health seems like the new excuse.....I did because I am depressed, bi polar, or whatever the concern du jour is.

Meanwhile the truly ill are shuffled to one side, and tossed in jail because the system won't or doesn't want to deal with them, unless it is a high profile case.
Freedom Isn't Free   "Never Shall I Fail My Brothers"

“Do everything that is necessary and nothing that is not".

Offline E.R. Campbell

  • Retired, years ago
  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Myth
  • *
  • 483,235
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 18,360
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2013, 08:39:59 »
Way back when, say 50ish years ago, there was, outside of every city and many large towns, a "hospital." These hospitals sat on large, park like, pieces of ground and were surrounded by fences. They were where we warehoused the mentally ill.

Over the years the medical experts told us that warehousing people was not the best way to care for them. It would be better, the experts said, to care for them in their own communities. I have no doubt that the experts were right.

Gradually we - our elected governments - closed all those "hospitals," sold off the land to developers and moved the "residents" into the communities.

Not surprisingly we - through our elected governments - were glad for the savings and revenues but, equally unsurprisingly, we refused to fund "community care" which, we learned, was going to be a whole lot more expensive that warehousing.

One result is the explosion of homeless people, food banks, shelters and so on. Go for a walk in your city: many (most?) of the homeless you see would, 50 years ago, have been "residents" in one of those old "hospitals." They would have been safe and adequately (if not always well) treated. But the hospitals are gone, replaced by strip malls or suburban homes, and there is no adequate "community care."

I also agree with Rider Pride that our very liberal attitudes towards drug and alcohol abuse contribute to the problem, but, unlike the loss of the "hospitals," the extent of that contribution is less clear to me, as a layman.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
----------
Like what you see/read here on Army.ca?  Subscribe, and help keep it "on the air!"

Offline Journeyman

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 542,500
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 12,990
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2013, 08:45:59 »
....has seen a 43 per cent increase in individuals with severe mental illness and/or addiction.
While it makes for a startling statistic, these are two separate problems.  Yes, there is sometimes overlap, but for statistical utility, they can't arbitrarily be lumped together.

Online mariomike

  • Directing Staff
  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *
  • 497,850
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,200
    • The job.
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2013, 09:31:16 »
Gradually we - our elected governments - closed all those "hospitals," sold off the land to developers and moved the "residents" into the communities.

Lakeshore Psych was de-institutionalized in 1979-80. 

999 ( now 1001 ) Queen Street was able to accomodate only their most severe cases.




 
« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 11:13:05 by mariomike »

Offline pbi

  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *****
  • 52,725
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 3,962
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2013, 12:26:30 »
Way back when, say 50ish years ago, there was, outside of every city and many large towns, a "hospital." These hospitals sat on large, park like, pieces of ground and were surrounded by fences. They were where we warehoused the mentally ill....Gradually we - our elected governments - closed all those "hospitals," sold off the land to developers and moved the "residents" into the communities...
many (most?) of the homeless you see would, 50 years ago, have been "residents" in one of those old "hospitals." They would have been safe and adequately (if not always well) treated.
ER: you stole my thunder.  The change in policies on institutionalizing the mentally ill was not, in my opinion, a very good one, although to be fair that was probably not evident at the time. It seemed, no doubt, to be very enlightened. I believe that other big city police services besides Vancouver (Toronto and Ottawa come to mind) have identified this problem of the police becoming de facto front line mental health workers.

I live in Kingston, (where we still have a functioning psychiatric hospital), but where many mentally ill people are living in the community. They live in group homes, or individually, but without the tighter controls that existed in the days of institutional care. As a result, Mental Health Act (MHA)-related calls are quite common for the police and EMS. It is not unusual to encounter mentally ill people in the downtown area, most of whom are probably harmless but are quite disordered and thus highly vulnerable.

 I had to call 911 two years ago as a result of an incident involving a mentally ill man in a restaurant where I was picking up a takeout order. The responding paramedics knew him by name, indicating that he was a repeat "offender". Through my involvement as a responder with Kingston Victim Services, I have become aware that this is a serious issue, even in a smaller city like ours, and that there don't see to be many good options.

As draconian as it might seem, I believe very strongly that many of these people would be much better off living in a controlled and secure environment where they can be looked after, and not able to wander the streets at risk to themselves and possibly to others. This risks a return to the 1950's style "warehousing" that ER refers to, but the alternative does not seem to be working very well.
The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools. ...

The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out...

Online mariomike

  • Directing Staff
  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *
  • 497,850
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,200
    • The job.
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2013, 12:51:49 »
I had to call 911 two years ago as a result of an incident involving a mentally ill man in a restaurant where I was picking up a takeout order. The responding paramedics knew him by name, indicating that he was a repeat "offender".

There is no way ( that I know of ) to calculate how many 9-1-1 calls these individuals generate.

All you can record on the Ambulance Call Report ( ACR ) for name, address and Date of Birth etc. is "Could not Obtain" ( CNO ).

"Paramedics in Thunder Bay are responding to 80 per cent more calls than they did a decade ago, and they say mental health problems and substance misuse are a big part of the increase, stretching their limits.":
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/ems-workers-overloaded-with-mental-health-addictions-calls-1.1171833
« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 17:07:34 by mariomike »

Offline E.R. Campbell

  • Retired, years ago
  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Myth
  • *
  • 483,235
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 18,360
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2013, 13:50:40 »
ER: you stole my thunder.  The change in policies on institutionalizing the mentally ill was not, in my opinion, a very good one, although to be fair that was probably not evident at the time. It seemed, no doubt, to be very enlightened. I believe that other big city police services besides Vancouver (Toronto and Ottawa come to mind) have identified this problem of the police becoming de facto front line mental health workers.
...
As draconian as it might seem, I believe very strongly that many of these people would be much better off living in a controlled and secure environment where they can be looked after, and not able to wander the streets at risk to themselves and possibly to others. This risks a return to the 1950's style "warehousing" that ER refers to, but the alternative does not seem to be working very well.


Here in Ottawa the Chief of Police has explained that his patrol officers are, already, the city's "de facto front line mental health workers" ... and that they are damned expensive ones at that.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
----------
Like what you see/read here on Army.ca?  Subscribe, and help keep it "on the air!"

Offline Colin P

  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *****
  • 139,235
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,327
  • Civilian
    • http://www.pacific.ccg-gcc.gc.ca
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2013, 13:52:34 »
The issue has been around for at least a decade, likely it's finally overwhelming their policing budget.

Offline PrairieThunder

    And that\'s why we can\'t have nice things.

  • Banned
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • 15,695
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 598
  • For Queen and Country
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2013, 17:15:39 »
When I have to sit in a hospital for 5+hrs with an MHA, only to find out they were discharged an hour after I leave is the most infuriating. Why? Because not only does it mean I've wasted my time trying to get them help but it also means the system is broken.

Offline Robert0288

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • 22,167
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 493
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2013, 19:35:26 »
Quote
I believe that other big city police services besides Vancouver (Toronto and Ottawa come to mind) have identified this problem of the police becoming de facto front line mental health workers.

I do remember both the Toronto and Ottawa police talking about programs that they've already implemented prior to the Yatim shooting in Toronto, where mental health workers and a psychologist affiliated with the local hospital is on call for the police to access.  Unfortunately Ottawa's budget could only afford to have him on staff for 3/7 days.  Not sure what the Toronto budget is, or what they've change in the last 3 weeks since I've heard of it.

Offline Hamish Seggie

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 220,872
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 10,125
  • This is my son Michael, KIA Afghanistan 3 Sep 08
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2013, 20:55:42 »
I see it every day. We have an entire range dedicated to those who are severely mentally ill. The psychiatric system doesn't want them. The hospitals can't take them because there are no beds in the secure psych facilities.

Vince Li, who beheaded a man on a bus is an exception. He goth the best defence and the best treatment available here....high profile.

No one wants a mentally ill shoplifter.
Freedom Isn't Free   "Never Shall I Fail My Brothers"

“Do everything that is necessary and nothing that is not".

Offline milnews.ca

  • Info Curator, Baker & Food Slut
  • Directing Staff
  • Army.ca Relic
  • *
  • 413,995
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 21,838
    • MILNEWS.ca-Military News for Canadians
Re: Vancouver Mayor, Police Chief say city facing "mental health crisis"
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2013, 22:45:46 »
.... Not surprisingly we - through our elected governments - were glad for the savings and revenues but, equally unsurprisingly, we refused to fund "community care" which, we learned, was going to be a whole lot more expensive that warehousing ....
Bang on - and the governments that did this were of pretty well of all colours (doing either the cutting or the underfunding of community services).

I remember local (provincial) jail officials saying in public ~20 years ago that between 15 and 30% of their inmates needed to be in medical care, not jail.
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

The words I share here are my own, not those of anyone else or anybody I may be affiliated with.

Tony Prudori
MILNEWS.ca - Twitter