Guelph police say they are the first policing service in Canada to use an improved version of a software tool designed to help officers better deal with people in crisis and mental distress.
HealthIM was first deployed in Guelph in January 2018 as part of a partnership between police, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and Guelph General Hospital.
Installed in patrol cars and smartphones, HealthIM helps police determine the appropriate response when dealing with a person who appears to be in a mental health crisis.
Officers have now received an updated version that gives them information from previous police calls, de-escalation tips, or any other alerts family members have provided during previous situations.
“Officers will now benefit from an improved version, which prioritizes the safety of the person in crisis and responding personnel,” police said in a news release.
The emergency department at Guelph General also has access to HealthIM.
“The use of this software provides our staff a pre-alert which gives the opportunity to be better prepared for the arrival of a patient in a mental health crisis,” said Kim Crawford, director of the emergency department.
“The HealthIM program gives the emergency room staff key information that is obtained by the police teams which will aid us in the care and safety planning for individuals as they arrive.”
Police said since the program was deployed, officer wait times in the emergency department have been reduced.
“Officers have also significantly reduced the number of individuals involuntarily apprehended for emergency assessment under the province’s Mental Health Act,” police said.
Officers can instead offer a person in crisis a secure referral to the CMHA’s Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team (IMPACT) program.
“The introduction of this new software allows us to strengthen our collaboration and partnership with the Guelph Police Service by receiving relevant mental health and addictions related crisis information in a timely way,” said Aleah Wagner, IMPACT program manager.
“It provides us pertinent information that allows us to safely and effectively support and follow up with individuals and their families in the community in a timely manner.”