Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Social workers hired to collaborate with the police officers of the region

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Four social workers will work with three police forces in the region. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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Problems related to mental health account for a significant portion of the calls received by police forces in the region. The Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, and the Minister responsible for Social Services, Lionel Carmant, announced the hiring of four social workers who will collaborate with three police forces in the region.

The latter will be based in certain stations, namely that of the Memphrémagog Police Authority, that of the Granby Police Department, as well as those of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) in Dunham and Richmond. The MRC des Sources will also be served.

These sectors were chosen based on the number of calls received for mental health issues.

The objective is to take advantage of the expertise of social workers, who can, among other things, redirect people with mental health disorders to appropriate resources to limit the use of hospital services.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The new employees have been on the job for a few weeks and they are invaluable.

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For them [the police], it's very helpful. There are a lot of cases, mental health situations, disturbed mental states, homelessness, crisis situations, disasters, deaths and everything. There are several situations that see the need for this support, underlines social worker Josyane Vallières.

She can listen to the police waves to know when intervention is necessary. Then, I receive the call from the police officer in charge, who asks that I go to the field to assess the situation and respond to the needs of the population, she explains.

With her own background, she will come and provide other solutions, other approaches. It’s a whole toolbox that I don’t necessarily have, but that she does. We learn to work with our two chests together.

A quote from Marie-Claude Roux, officer at the Granby Police Department

This project is inspired by the mobile team of #x27;psychosocial intervention from the Sherbrooke Police Service (SPS), implemented in 2015-2016.

To date, five SPS police officers are paired with a social worker. They are on the field every night of the week. In 2021, they carried out 776 interventions, while that year there were more than 1,600 calls related to mental health issues. The project made it possible to reduce the number of hospitalizations associated with this type of call by 50%.

The commander of the SQ assigned until recently to Estrie and Centre-du-Québec, Cédrick Brunelle, notes that this type of team also makes it possible to significantly reduce the number of recurring calls.

The recurring cases, often, are people who will call us four, five, six times a week, because they are delirious. For example, they will say that a neighbor is making too much noise even though there is no noise. […] [With the social worker], it allows for quicker intervention and to reduce these cases. In some cases, they called us around thirty times a month. After that, we reduced it to four, five times, and the resources are in place, he maintains.

The project involves $418,000 in annual funding from the Department of Health and the Department of Public Safety. Quebec would eventually like to extend it to other sectors of Estrie.

With information from Katy Larouche

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