Road Ahead: Mental health, addiction issues new initiatives of region, police in 2016


York Region and York Regional Police are partnering on new initiatives to address increasing mental health and addiction issues in York Region in the new year.

Efforts will focus on building resilience in our communities, providing ongoing support to those living with mental illness and partnering for effective crisis intervention, York Region chairperson and CEO Wayne Emmerson said.

“A pro-active approach to providing the right supports at the right time will help keep residents out of crisis and reduce mental-health demands on our emergency responders.”

It’s estimated 30 per cent of Ontarians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. In York Region, mental health related calls to police and EMS have increased more than 40 per cent over the past five years.

Diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness, special needs or addictions can create barriers to finding appropriate social supports, Newmarket Regional Councillor and community and health services chairperson John Taylor said.

“Better co-ordination of mental health service delivery between government partners and community agencies will ensure better outcomes for more vulnerable residents in need of help,” Taylor said.

Activities led by York Region and York Regional Police under the mental health initiatives partnership include:

• Enhancing elementary and secondary school and Transition to Parenting programs to promote positive mental health for students and provide targeted supports to parents with anxiety, depression or potentially undiagnosed Perinatal Mood Disorder;

• Establishing an internal mental health working group to deliver more integrated services;

• Analysing local mental health data and engaging with service providers and partners to better understand local mental health and addition issues;

• Providing education and training to staff to help identify and support clients with undiagnosed mental health or addictions issues;

• Reviewing current support services provided by York Region to examine how they can be more effective;

• Partnering on effective crisis response and intervention

Although the province is the main driver and funder of mental health initiatives, York Region and York Regional Police have a growing role to play and will continue to collaborate on mental health initiatives with all partners.

York Region will also provide input on implementation of the province’s Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.

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