Mental Health Workers Are Now Part of the Front Line: Mobile Rapid Response Case Study

A decrease in mental health funding has resulted in a shift from psychiatric custodial treatment of persons with mental illness to that of a community-living approach. In December 2015, an announcement was made that St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton in Hamilton, Ontario, was closing a mental health unit as part of an effort to achieve $26 million in cost savings. With the growing cost of health care, more and more communities are experiencing similar trends toward a community-living approach for persons with mental illness. By virtue of the 24/7 role of law enforcement, police have often become the primary responders to persons in crisis. In 2010, Dr. Katrina Clifford, a media criminology specialist, stated that Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom have seen an increase in people with mental illness coming in contact with the criminal justice system.