Mental health-related calls up dramatically for police

Social disorder calls that involve police dealing with people suffering from mental health issues don’t appear in crime statistics, but they’re soaking up more time and resources each year, say Nanaimo RCMP.

Supt. Mark Fisher, the detachment’s commanding officer, said Nanaimo isn’t unique and that the rising trend is taxing community resources to varying degrees across the province.

“One area where we’ve seen a significant increase that isn’t replicated in those stats, but takes up a significant amount of time and resources, is in the area of mental health,” Fisher said. “Our mental health calls from 2011 to 2013 have gone up almost 22 per cent, so that’s a huge impact on the amount of time we spend dealing with these issues in the community, front-line response and the draw on our members and resources.”

John Horn, city social planner, said representatives from the city, Island Health and social agencies convened in 2013 to study the main social issues and discuss how to direct resources.

Chris Bush Reports

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