Transformational Change: Building a Mental Health Emergency Service

Toronto emergency services receive 30,000 non-criminal mental health-related calls every year. Currently, police are the first responders to these calls, with the Toronto Police Service’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Team being called about 20% of the time. But is a police response the right answer? Toronto residents have long advocated for reform of the City’s response to mental health emergencies. The rash of recent deaths of racialized people during mental health or wellness-related interactions with the police have amplified this call for change. The Reach Out Response Network is a coalition of community stakeholders dedicated to creating transformational change in Toronto’s mental health crisis services. They are partnering with the City of Toronto to design and implement a non-police mental health emergency service, staffed by mental health clinicians and peer support workers from the communities they serve. They will be available across the city 24/7, with rapid response times equivalent to those of police, fire, and ambulance. Civilian-led teams will replace police response to most mental health crises. Join the United Jewish People’s Order on Saturday, January 23 to hear Reach Out Response Networks’ founders, Rachel Bromberg and Asante Haughton talk about the process they, and others, are engaged in with the City of Toronto to transform Toronto’s mental health emergency response.

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