Mental health partnership with Saskatoon police saves lives, money

From CBC News Saskatoon - January 28, 2016:

The Saskatoon Health Region is celebrating a program that pairs police with mental health professionals.

Since the Police and Crisis Team (PACT) program was launched in 2014, dozens of people have been kept out of the court system.

"PACT is a great example of how the police, health, and a community based organization like Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service can work together to create positive outcomes for persons in a mental health crisis," said police inspector Mitch Yuzdepski in a press release. "It's about responding to crises in real-time."

The PACT program pairs a police officer with specialized training with a mental health trained worker from Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service. The team tries to reduce arrests of people with mental illness and decrease the amount of emergency department visits.

So far, everyone involved is calling the program a success.

By the numbers

Between Nov. 1, 2014 and Oct. 31, 2015, PACT responded to 875 calls. As a result of their work:

·         97 people did not need to go to the emergency department

·         192 people requested help with suicide risk

·         875 calls that would have gone to police were handled by the PACT team

·         $198,898 savings toward the Saskatoon Health Region