Paramedics new mental health team improving care for those in crisis

By Alex Black

A new initiative has been launched in Ottawa to provide early intervention and options for people in the midst of a mental health-related crisis.

The Mental Wellbeing Response Team has been up and running for three months, a partnership between the Ottawa Paramedic Service and the Ottawa Hospital (TOH) that aims to improve outcomes for non-violent and non-criminal emergency calls where mental health and substance use are factors.

The response team includes a specially trained paramedic partnered with a mental health professional, such as a registered social worker from TOH. Through the new program, individuals in crisis would receive both a medical and mental health assessment, with the mental health professional developing a care plan that includes follow-up care if as needed.

The Ottawa Paramedic Service says it responds to approximately 25 mental health-related calls every day and that many of the individuals involved are needlessly transported to a hospital when other care options would be more appropriate.

The new team has responded to multiple calls each day since its launch and of those calls, more than 50 per cent have not required transportation to hospital.

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