Woodstock, ON

The Mental Heath Engagement and Response Team (MHEART) program is a partnership between Oxford County OPP, the Woodstock Police Service and the Canadian Mental Health Association, which pairs on-duty police officers with a crisis worker to respond to mental-health or addiction-based emergency calls.  Its goal is to keep people out of emergency rooms and to provide citizens with the help they need at the time of their call. 

A more robust and practical approach for dealing with mental-health-related matters, mental-health clinicians ride in the car with officers and offer resources to the subject of the call.  As these are situations where the person may be in crisis or experiencing a mental-health crisis, the clinician will often take the lead talking to the person once police have deemed the situation safe. Clinicians then follow up and help create a plan for that person.

According to the team, since the program was launched in September 2018  it has made 545 “connections” – not necessarily only calls for service – and, from there, has made over 400 referrals to community services. There were also 75 fewer people taken to the emergency as a result off MHEART’s presence on calls where police otherwise would have had to take the person to hospital to receive mental-health support.

“At the end of the day, it is all about getting the right care to the right person at the right time, and a lot of this can be done in their own home rather than us having to take them to hospital,” said Paul Hess, inspector of operations with the Woodstock police.

Program Region