Police officers and Northern Health psychiatric nurses are teaming up to do weekly visits in the Houston area to ensure people with mental health issues are taking their medication and to determine what other help they may need.
With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping more people at home for longer periods of time, people relying on medication could be running short, says Sgt. Mark Smaill of the Houston RCMP detachment.
And it’s one way of making contact with people who, because of the pandemic, may be more isolated than normal, he said of the checks which take place Wednesdays and which, for now, are a pilot project of nearly two months.
“It’s better to be proactive then reactive,” said Smaill of the effort to try and prevent situations or circumstances requiring a more vigorous police and health service response.
“We want to do whatever we can do to provide the best service for our clients and for the health service clients,” he said.
“These are extra precautions we can take to help people get the support they need.”
“By being proactive we hope there are a lot of things that can go right to avoid a lot of things that can go wrong,” Smaill continued.
Officers and nurses will offer to make appointments at the health clinic, offer rides when needed and help to get refills of medication.
The officers and nurses will even visit the soup kitchen, other community service locations and walk through the mall to speak with people, Smaill added.
Officers do have the option, under urgent or emergent situations, of taking people into custody for assessment and treatment under the provincial Mental Health Act.
Smaill briefed the District of Houston council on the wellness check initiative during a meeting it held Oct. 13.
He also told council that while theft from vehicles was down 90 per cent, vehicle thefts had risen.
It seemed that at one time, it was a tradition in Houston, perhaps because it is a small town, of people not locking their vehicles or even keeping keys in their vehicles, Smaill noted afterward in commenting on his report to council.
And while vehicle thefts may be up, it is not by a large number but even an increase of just several vehicles a month registers as a significant percentage increase in police statistics.