March 2, 2021



Mental health: decrease in calls to the police – L’

For the past year, Trois-Rivières police officers have been able to count on the support of a social worker when dealing with individuals with mental health problems. This partnership is already showing promising results. The Trois-Rivières Police Department (DPTR) recorded a 20% drop in interventions of this nature compared to last year.

“Calls are dropping, even though 2020 isn’t the best year to make comparisons because of the pandemic. We can’t wait to see what it will turn out for the next few years, ”says René Martin, director of the Trois-Rivières police.

More than a hundred situations have been analyzed by social worker Marylène Ménard since taking up her post in September 2019. Of this number, more than half were recurrent cases.

“It’s difficult to give a precise figure, but we can say that we were able to find solutions for a large number of cases, which resulted in a decrease in calls to the police,” indicates Ms. Ménard. The challenge is always the instability of the person. If an X event happens in the person’s life, it could lead to a review of the strategy. ”

“When the police receive a call, they intervene with the person first,” continues the latter. Once the crisis is managed and the intervention is over, they bring the information back to me and I look into the case. I research the individual to see what has already been done and then establish a strategy. On the spot, the police ask the person if they want to be contacted to work with them. It happened to me to travel with the police in specific cases, but it is rare. ”

Personalized interventions

When she took up her post, the social worker began to work on the many recurring cases. The objective pursued by this approach consisted, first of all, of drawing up an individualized profile of the people targeted in order to identify their needs and learn about the services and support put in place. Subsequently, she verified the effectiveness of these measures and, ultimately, proposed new intervention strategies.

After collecting all the relevant data, Ms. Ménard set up a system of personalized files accessible by all police officers. These contain information that allows the police to direct their interventions more adequately and more effectively, and in a shorter period of time. These sheets allow police officers in particular to adjust their interventions according to the known profile of the individual and the suggested guidelines.

In addition, in cases where individuals show signs of a disturbed mental state, but which are not known to social services, Ms. Ménard facilitates the coordination and management of these by the partner interveners. Police officers also benefit from his availability in an “advisory role” to guide them in other occasional interventions with a social connotation.

A necessary initiative

This project is the result of an agreement between the police of Trois-Rivières and the Integrated University Health and Social Services Center of Mauricie-et-du-Center-du-Québec (CIUSSS MCQ). This initiative had become necessary for the police given the sharp increase in calls related to mental health issues, observed in recent years.

In 2015, 428 calls were handled by the patrollers for individuals presenting a disturbed mental state, compared to 838 in 2019. The goal of such an agreement is therefore to pool the respective skills during these psychosocial interventions in order to intervene. adequately while ensuring the safety of the population.

Given the success of this first year, we must look to deploy the initiative elsewhere with the Sûreté du Québec, ”concludes Jovany Raymond, deputy director of general social services and dependency at the CIUSSS MCQ.