Toronto police launch mental health and addictions strategy

Oct 7 2019, 1:30 pm

The Toronto Police Service have launched a new Mental Health & Addictions Strategy.

The Strategy, released alongside the Toronto Police Service Board, outlines the commitment of the Toronto Police Service “to preserving the health and safety of both members of our community, and members of the service who may experience mental health and addictions issues.”

According to the police service, it was also developed in consultation with its former Mental Health Sub-Committee and Mental Health External Advisory Committee.

“We are very fortunate to have had tremendous support and expert advice available to us in developing our strategy,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “Our new Mental Health and Addictions Strategy outlines eight commitments and accompanying action items to guide us in implementing the strategy and ensuring we are informed, as a service, about how to best recognize and respond to those in crisis.”

In the document, Saunders said that the new strategy details the specific actions police will take to ensure that they are responding effectively and compassionately to community members who appear to be experiencing mental health and/or addictions issues and how police will achieve our goal of zero deaths.

“The strategy is intended to be a living document that will evolve as we learn more about the complex issues of mental health and addictions, and how those issues impact the lives of people in the community and people in our workplace,” said Saunders.

The Strategy outlines the following eight key areas of commitment:
• Preserving Life
• Leadership
• Cultural Competence, Equity, and Anti-racism
• Stigma-free Environment
• Continuous Learning
• Advocacy and Partnerships
• Evaluation
• Transparency, Accountability, Oversight, and Reporting

“This Strategy rightly recognizes the reality that mental health issues are not merely the behaviour of individuals, but how individuals engage with society and the impact society may be having on those individuals. By including data collection, analysis and an annual public report, this Strategy will allow for greater accountability and transparency,” said Former Board’s Mental Health External Advisory Committee Co-Chair Hamlin Grange.

“It is clear from this Strategy that the Service wants to create and maintain a learning environment on mental health by expanding the skill sets of all Members in order to respond effectively and compassionately to the changing needs of an increasingly diverse city.”