A police officer, a paramedic, and a mental health clinician have helped over 400 people in six months who were in need of an emergency mental health response in Dunedin, NZ Police said today.
The Otago Coastal Co-Response Team (CRT) is now into the second half of its 12 month trial.
The initiative between Otago Coastal Police, St John and Southern District Health Board began in November last year, and in six months has responded to 411 incidents across the district.
The Co-Response Team attend emergency mental health calls in the district together and provide enhanced on-scene care to members of our community experiencing mental health distress.
“People in mental health distress often call emergency services for help,” says CRT project lead, Inspector Craig Brown.
“While we do our best, Police are not experts in providing on-scene mental health support. The CRT provides those in need with immediate access to professional support and mental health services.”
Previously, a large number of people were being unnecessarily transported to emergency departments or Police stations, he said.
“The CRT trial has enabled us to support 350 clients in their own home. This has earned a lot of positive feedback for the team.”
The CRT operate as one, starting and finishing shifts together, and deploying to events together in the same vehicle.
The team operates out of Dunedin Station from Tuesday to Friday, between 11am and 9pm, dispatching to emergency mental health calls for Police or Ambulance. Existing emergency services will respond to mental health-related callouts when the CRT is unavailable.
“We want to ensure people and their whānau receive the most appropriate care.”
“There are huge benefits and partnership opportunities in interagency work. All agencies are committed to working in partnership to improve the response people in mental health distress receive when they reach out to emergency services,” said Insp Brown.