Dealing with mentally ill continues unabated for Vancouver police (St. Paul’s Hospital)

Their message was stark, and their words were strong and carefully chosen.

The situation in Vancouver’s streets was nothing short of “a crisis,” both the mayor and the chief of police declared in a joint press conference last September.

Police were spending more time on cases involving mental health. A number of frightening, high-profile incidents had captured the public’s attention and showed the unpredictability of such situations. Not only that, police said, but these incidents also posed the “greatest risk of an unprovoked attack” on people going about their daily lives.

It’s been a year since the Vancouver Police Department released a report titled Vancouver’s Mental Health Crisis, which highlighted a “worrisome” trend of an increasing number of cases involving mentally ill people.

In addition to police resources, the crisis impacts hospitals: according to a report this year, St. Paul’s Hospital has seen a 63 per cent increase since 2009 in the number of patients it treats with mental illness and addiction issues.

Dan Fumano reports

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