Mental health a growing crisis
Sep 13, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Mental illness issues in Vancouver have reached epidemic proportions and the city desperately needs more money to address the “growing crisis,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said Friday.
“We are facing a public health crisis when it comes to people suffering from untreated, severe mental illness,” he told a room full of reporters at Vancouver police headquarters. “The police should not, and cannot continue to be the first point of contact.”
Const. Jim Chu, Vancouver’s police chief, said a growing number of people with mental illnesses are contacting the police for access to health care, support and medical treatment.
“We must find more resources for the medical professionals who can help those who are suffering from a severe mental illness,” he urged.
Chu and Robertson are pushing the provincial and federal governments to kick in more money for mental health resources in a list of five recommendations including:
- 300 long-term mental health treatment beds
- Increased staffing for BC Housing, which works with tenants suffering from mental illness
- An enhanced crisis centre at a Vancouver hospital to provide urgent care for those who need it
- The creation of a joint VPD-Vancouver Coastal Health Assertive Outreach Team
The emergency room at St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver has reported a 43% increase in visits from people with severe mental illness and addiction problems in the last three years.
Perhaps even more alarming is that about one-fifth of all police incidents involve mental illness, according to the VPD.
New front-line police officers currently receive specialized training to deal with mentally ill people, a fact VPD called a “sad reality” in a news release. “We cannot continue to ask police officers to be front-line mental health workers,” it said.
The number of violent acts committed upon mentally ill people is also on the rise. They’re 23 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than people without the illness, the VPD said.
Both Chu and Robertson, who also serves as chair of the city’s police board, were careful to stress not stigmatizing those with mental illness.
Read more BC News
- Family of five submerged in river
- Highway 1 reopened
- Victim identified in Vancouver homicide
- Man arrested after calling 9-1-1 for help
- Hunter found after cold BC night
- 60-year-old shot and killed
- Snowboarder dies on Grouse Mtn.
- Child abductor gets 6 years in prison
- Temperatures to drop next week
- Weekend road report
- Elderly man kills two pedestrians
- House fire kills 1 in Langley
(Click for RSS instructions.)