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City, Nanaimo RCMP optimistic about how ‘situation tables’ can help people, one at a time

City highlights rising demand for wellness checks and mental health-related calls
Rising demand for police to perform well-being checks and field calls for people struggling with mental heath crises is driving the city to formulate a situation table to connect vulnerable people with the services they need. (News Bulletin file photo)

Over the past two years, Nanaimo RCMP have seen a significant rise in well-being checks and calls related to people experiencing mental health crises.

According to a City of Nanaimo press release, in 2020, Nanaimo Mounties responded to 2,220 wellness checks and an additional 2,442 mental health-related calls.

In February, Nanaimo council directed city staff to work with the RCMP to implement a provincially funded ‘situation table’ in the City of Nanaimo. Situation tables bring together front-line staff from the public safety, health, and social services sectors to identify vulnerable people and connect them in a co-ordinated manner with services they need.

The situation tables concept aligns well with the work of the city’s health and housing task force and actions recommended by the health and housing action plan, which includes supporting an integrated co-ordinated access model. The situation table, along with a well-developed inventory of services and resources, will create common languages, tools and processes across the public safety, health and social service sector, the city said.

“The situation table will improve the informal process that our new mental health liaison officer has been working hard to develop with our many partners,” said Insp. Lisa Fletcher, Nanaimo RCMP acting officer in charge, in the press release. “By formalizing this process, we hope to better improve our collective service delivery to the most vulnerable in our community.”

As the details of Nanaimo’s situation table are being worked out, Const. Joshua Waltman, Nanaimo RCMP’s first appointed Medical Health Liaison Officer, will continue to build relationships with partner agencies.

Since Waltman assumed the mental health liaison officer role in November, he has meet with Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s psychiatric emergency services, Island Health’s community outreach team, and probation services and attended calls for service jointly with more than 150 clients to help find responses that are more effective and reduce emergency call volume.

“I am pleased to see the enhanced public safety measures being rolled out by Nanaimo RCMP and Community Policing, with the help and support of the province and many community partners, that continue to make Nanaimo an attractive place to call home,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog in the release.

READ ALSO: Province to fund Nanaimo’s ‘situation table’ to try to help repeat offenders

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island crisis line saw more calls than ever in a year of COVID-19
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