Mental health issues continue to keep local police officers busy.
At Monday’s Quinte West Police Services Board meeting, OPP Constable John Bertelink
said that as of September 5, the Quinte West detachment had received 291 calls for service
involving people dealing with mental health problems.
For the same period last year, the number of calls totaled 337.
Meanwhile, there has been a decrease in the amount of time Quinte West OPP officers have had to spend at hospital with individuals suffering with mental health issues before they receive medical treatment.
The average time so far this year is one hour and ten minutes.
For the same period last year, officer time at hospitals was over 90 minutes.
Constable Bertelink stressed that issues brought about by mental health problems range from minor to serious, as people can become very violent.
Wait times for treatment could be as short as 15 minutes, but local police have had to stay at hospital for as long as 8 hours.
Constable Bertelink says Quinte West officers are now undergoing training in preparation to join a program called Intersections.
Under the program, already in use by a few police services, an officer noticing kids with mental health issues or living in a situation likely to lead to problems, can make a referral asking for counselling before there is any criminal activity.
Several members of the Police Services Board believed that somehow more resources and funding were needed to address the increasing
prevalence of mental health issues across the province.