Community Health Intervention Program addresses people suffering from mental health issues in Delta.
The objective is to increase public safety and client safety in Delta.
Community-Based Policing Branch
The groups are directly involved. One mental health officer from Fraser Health works with a designated police officer from Delta. They go around in a car together and perform home visits and other related duties.
This initiative has been in place for three years.
This initiative was undertaken as a result of economics and public safety. From the economic perspective, funding for mental health clients in BC was decreased, which resulted in many people being put out on the street. Now roughly 70% of calls are related to mental health (domestic disputes, family discord and public incidents involving mental health clients). It takes up a lot of resources (for officer safety, two police officers must take a mental health client to local hospital for admission/assessment, which can take up to seven or eight hours). We wanted to take a more focused approach to mental health in our community and direct our stretched resources appropriately.
The start-up costs were about $300,000. This includes staffing costs, vehicles, office equipment and supplies, etc. Ongoing costs are mostly related to staff costs ($200,000). The team consists of one police officer and two job-sharing mental health workers.
Delta Police and Fraser Health researched and assessed mental health issues in the community and decided to implement the program; a need and a solution were identified and we went with it. In retrospect, what we are doing now may end up being considered the ‘pilot project’ as evaluations have determined it is an effective program that needs more resources (more designated staff, vehicles, etc.).
The key goal was to increase safety and this was achieved, but it is not enough because the demand is greater than the resources. It has also increased efficiency and effectiveness by providing a better dedication of resources.
The key message is that Delta Police and Fraser Health are working together to assist people with mental health issues in our community.
An academic university review determined CHIP was a success. It is one of the best programs of its kind in the country and needs to be expanded.
CHIP has enabled us to commit fewer resources to mental health, because there is a specific unit to deal with mental issues. If it weren’t for CHIP, other non-designated police officers would have to deal with the follow-up from these calls (check on client, do an assessment). They can now have the CHIP team perform these duties, but the CHIP team is so busy they can’t do it all. CHIP is a new model for community safety that has resulted in efficiencies for Delta Police.
Mental health issues are a huge community problem that needs to be addressed from many different angles. The care of mental health clients has been eroding and has been downloaded onto the community, and the result is that police are left to deal with the problem, instead of catching ‘bad guys.’ The mental health organizations that remain in our community are only open during business hours and many of the issues that we deal with occur after hours when the mental health experts aren’t available. Most police officers do not have the training to deal with mental health clients in the same way that mental health workers do. This program is a success because it pairs a police officer with a mental health worker, but the demand far outpaces the resources and we need more funding to expand successful programs such as this.