The équipe de soutien aux urgences psychosociales (ESUP) is made of up SPVM officers and social workers from the CSSS Jeanne-Mance who patrol in mixed teams and take direct first-line action with people who are mentally disturbed or in crisis situations.
The team has been on duty seven days a week since June 6, 2012. They are dispatched by the Section centre de communications opérationnelles (operational communications centre), that is, by the 9-1-1 dispatchers who receive distress calls, and sometimes they are also called directly by police officers to help on-site at calls involving mental health problems.
This is a one-year pilot project, the results of which will be assessed by a committee made up of representatives of the SPVM and the CSSS Jeanne-Mance.
To foster multidisciplinary cooperation and support police work during interventions that involve individuals who are mentally disturbed or in crisis, in order to help these people access the appropriate services in terms of justice, healthcare or community support.
During an intervention, the ÉSUP members share tasks based on their respective expertise:
The new ÉSUP mixed teams that are deployed in the field have the expertise to:
Each of the team members plays a role suited to their own mandate. They are trained to work together closely while upholding the organizational and legal guidelines of their respective organizations. Eventually, this could mean fewer trips to emergency, a more nuanced response to the needs of troubled individuals and greater likelihood that these individuals do not generate subsequent calls.
Of the three officers on the team, two have psychology training or field experience related to mental health, and all three have the qualities required for the position: ability to listen, involvement in the community, ease of establishing trust, empathy, respect, capacity to adapt their communications and instructions to a person in crisis, and so on. The team coordinator has implemented an intervention protocol with the Louis H. Lafontaine hospital, and she offers her partnership expertise to the community resources.
The team from the CSSS Jeanne-Mance is made up of two criminologists and a psycho-educator from the psychosocial emergency/justice team who has the expertise to evaluate people in crisis who present a danger for themselves or for others.
An analysis of the multidisciplinary teamwork being carried out in other Canadian and American cities suggests several benefits to this approach. This is what we are hoping to achieve with this pilot project:
Every year, the SPVM receives over 33,000 calls related to individuals in crisis or in a state of mental disturbance. This works out to about 90 calls a day. Even though this is only 3.2% of all calls received, these cases require twice as much time as other calls.
In terms of the health network, the ÉSUP has become a new model of intervention that makes contact with individuals who are in crisis or mentally disturbed in the place and at the time that they need help. The ÉSUP patrol can immediately refer the individual to the appropriate resources for the situation: a crisis centre, UPS-Justice, a street worker, etc.
The ÉSUP adds another level to the services offered by the healthcare network and by CSSS Jeanne-Mance, because for people in crisis, there are many solutions other than jail and the hospital.