‘It’s about saving lives’: Pilot mental health crisis response program becomes permanent

A pilot project partnership between the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) and Shared Health to reduce the workload of emergency responders is now becoming a permanent resource available to help more people in mental health crises.

The Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC) program began in December 2021, created in response to an increase in mental health-related police calls. The program sent plainclothes officers to non-criminal, non-emergent crises to better support the needs of those experiencing a mental health crisis.

Now, the Manitoba government is providing $414,000 to expand the program after a successful initial run. The money will pay for the program’s transition to an ongoing mental health intervention response.

“The funding will also be used to expand access to ARCC programming from 5 to 7 days a week,” said Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister Janice Morley-Lecomte.

The 18-month pilot project responded to 882 incidents related to 530 different clients. It’s being credited with freeing up police resources and reducing pressure in emergency rooms. The province said 91 per cent of clients were able to remain in the community after treatment.

Insp. Helen Peters said the success of the ARCC program proves that a collaborative, multi-agency approach can work. “It’s about saving lives and bringing hope back to situations that might feel hopeless,” she said.

Peters added that ARCC is available to anyone who needs it.

– With files from CTV’s Michelle Gerwing

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