In Crisis: Vancouver's Mental Health Crisis Response Model and Where to go From Here

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Sutherland, Laura
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Car 87/88 is the mobile unit in Vancouver that responds to persons experiencing a mental health crisis. However, they have not had the capacity to meet demand, leaving the majority of mental health crisis calls to uniformed officers to attend. Substantial investment from the City of Vancouver to create and expand existing response services has provoked questions about the role of police in mental health response in the city. This capstone examined the existing evidence regarding the effectiveness of police-based mental health crisis response models, such as Car 87/88, the co-response model specifically, non-police alternatives and the key findings that indicate more positive outcomes. Co-response was confirmed to be a common model but the variations in model application and lack of standardization have resulted in insufficient evidence to determine whether the model is effective. It was correlated with improvements in some key metrics, such as arrest rates and involuntary hospitalizations but many results were mixed, and isolating influencing factors were limited to speculation. Interagency collaboration, police culture and service-user input were identified as influential elements contributing to outcomes and in need of consideration in program design and implementation. Literature regarding non-police-based response models was minimal although evidence indicated potential demand for these services. Application of the learnings to the Car 87/88 program demonstrated that the claim of Car 87/88 as successful could not be substantiated with the evidence available. The creation of a non-police de-escalation team as part of new investment appears to align with recommendations that co-response teams be implemented with other programs to form a mental health continuum of care. Recommendations reinforced the importance of incorporating evidence in program design, staff training, and the decriminalization of service-users for improved relationships and outcomes.
Car 87/88 , mental health , crisis response , police response model , co-response
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess