OPP launch brief mental health screener for frontline officers

ORILLIA, ON, May 8, 2014 /CNW/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced today that it will soon begin using a science-based, standardized mental health screening form across the province which will help frontline officers articulate, in medical terms, why a person is being brought to a hospital for psychiatric assessment.

"I am pleased to announce the OPP is launching this science-based tool to improve our communication with health care professionals, which will help people in crisis get the care they need, when they need it," said OPP Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes.

The Brief Mental Health Screener (BMHS) is the result of a collaborative partnership between the OPP, University of Waterloo and interRAI, a network of researchers in over 30 countries committed to improving care for vulnerable populations, including persons with mental illness. InterRAI has developed assessment instruments for emergency care, nursing homes, home care, mental health and intellectual disabilities, among others.

The BMHS is based on the interRAI Mental Health assessment system, a comprehensive standardized instrument mandated in 2005 by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for use with all patients admitted to an Ontario hospital for inpatient psychiatric care. The BMHS has been evaluated through an OPP pilot project and will improve police response to people experiencing a mental health crisis. It will also assist officers in dealing with these situations and serves as a positive example of community mobilization in action.

OPP Detachment Commanders will soon be seeking partnerships with Ontario hospitals to implement use of the BMHS. The development and planned implementation of this new tool was announced today at a news conference by OPP Commissioner Hawkes along with Dr. John Hirdes of the University of Waterloo and interRAI Network of Excellence in Mental Health and Ms. Camille Quenneville, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division.

QUOTES:

"The Brief Mental Health Screener is a scientifically-sound tool that will help police officers identify mental health issues. It will increase their ability to collaborate effectively with mental health professionals."

Dr. John Hirdes, Chair of the interRAI Network of Excellence in Mental Health and Professor, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo..

"Tools such as the Brief Mental Health Screener enhance the transfer of care of a person in a mental health crisis, leading to better outcomes for individuals when they need it the most. We're pleased the OPP is taking steps to help officers improve interaction with those living with mental health issues and we look forward to further collaboration on this issue."

Ms. Camille Quenneville, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division.

"A well designed tool for documentation is more than just a form; it shapes how we think and thus how we act. The Brief Mental Health Screener was rigorously designed and tested by experts in the field with input from me and my colleagues (the 14 Ontario "LHIN Leads" for Emergency Medicine) and others in emergency medicine. It will be an important advance in improving care to vulnerable people in crisis and will improve communications between police and emergency departments. We are delighted the OPP will be among the first police services to implement it."

Dr. Howard Ovens, the Local Health Initiative Network (LHIN) and Ontario Lead for Emergency Medicine and the Director of the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

"Ontario's hospitals rely heavily on strong partnerships with community services, and so we welcome the adoption of the Brief Mental Health Screener by the Ontario Provincial Police. It is a useful tool that can enhance communications, support collaboration between police officers and health care professionals and bring a more seamless system of care to patients. We are encouraged by the work that's underway across Ontario to adopt tools like the BMHS."

Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association

SOURCE: Ontario Provincial Police

For further information:

Contact: Sergeant Pierre Chamberland

Phone:     705-329-6878


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