May 2016

This May, the HNHB LHIN is kicking off the month in style by participating in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) 65th annual Mental Health Week, which takes place May 2-8.

To help raise awareness, we are raising our voices to help end discrimination, stigma and shame as part of CMHA’s #GETLOUD campaign. Throughout this week, we are tweeting about mental health using #GETLOUD and are also one of a number of buildings around the region illuminated in green to show our support.

Improving the patient experience and access to care for people with mental health and/or addictions issues is among our highest priorities here at the LHIN. We are committed to supporting the development of a person-centred, integrated and coordinated system of mental health and addictions services. To that end, we have significantly increased our year-over-year investment in this sector by nearly 10%, from $75.9M in 2014/15 to $82.8M in 2015/16. This additional funding has enabled us to work with health service providers to expand and enhance existing services, and to launch new initiatives.

One recent success story that I would like to highlight, from among the many programs that are making a measurable difference for people struggling with mental health and addictions, is the expansion of the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team model into Brantford.

Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams, or MCRRT for short, pair mental health professionals with specially trained police officers to better respond to emergency calls involving people in crisis. The model, which was pioneered locally in Hamilton, proved so effective that it has since been rolled out in other communities across the LHIN including Niagara, Burlington, Norfolk and most recently in Brantford under a partnership between the Brantford Police Service, St. Leonard’s Community Services and Brant Community Healthcare System.

Despite having been in operation for less than 8 months, the Brantford MCRRT is having a noticeable impact. Rather than apprehending people in crisis and bringing them to hospital for evaluation, which was previously the norm, the new mobile teams now possess the knowledge and expertise to assess them in the field. Since the launch of the program, the mobile teams have been able to divert 64 per cent of cases from the hospital by instead connecting those clients with local agencies who are better equipped to handle their problems. In cases where people in crisis do need to be brought into hospital, 70 per cent are admitted, which speaks to the accuracy of the assessments done remotely. Those brought to hospital are also later connected with local agencies to ensure their long-term needs are being met.

Perhaps most telling of the success of the program is the reduction in emergency crisis calls being received from the community. In the program’s first two weeks the mobile teams responded to 131 calls or 65 per week. In the following 7 months, that number has dropped dramatically to 473 calls or roughly 15 a week. Those involved with the program are crediting the steep drop in demand to the fact that 100 per cent of individuals in crisis are now being connected with appropriate services in the community, thereby reducing repeat calls, and that between calls MCRRT members are checking in with former clients to monitor their stability and well-being.

In addition to providing better care to people with mental health and addictions concerns, the MCRRT is also ensuring more appropriate use of public funds. By reducing the number of people unnecessarily brought to the Emergency Department, less police time is being spent waiting in the hospital and ED staff are able to attend to other patients in a more timely manner.

To learn more about MCRRT and other Mental Health and Addictions services available in our LHIN, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about CMHA’s #GETLOUD campaign, CLICK HERE.

If you or your organization would like to be featured in a future blog or share a patient story in one of our Voices in the Community videos you can reach us through our office, or if you’re on social media via our Twitter handle - @HNHB_LHINgage. Your feedback and questions are always welcome.