The Ottawa Paramedic Service, in partnership with The Ottawa Hospital, has launched the Mental Wellbeing Response Team. This new initiative aims to improve short- and long-term health outcomes for emergency calls received by the Ottawa Paramedic Service through 9-1-1 that are non-violent and non-criminal, and where mental health and substance use are contributing factors.
Each day, the Ottawa Paramedic Service responds to approximately 25 mental health related calls from 9-1-1. Many of these individuals are needlessly transported to a hospital when other care options may be more appropriate.
Historically, paramedics have been limited to providing immediate medical assessment and treatment only. Now, through the Mental Wellbeing Response Team, individuals may receive a medical and mental health assessment, as well as resource referrals and follow-up mental health care.
The Team includes a specially trained City paramedic partnered with a mental health professional, such as a registered social worker from The Ottawa Hospital, a partner organization. The paramedic does the medical assessment and provides any necessary medical treatment while the mental health professional conducts a mental health assessment, develops a care plan, provides safety planning, and can even schedule follow-up care as needed.
In the three months that the new Team has been on the road, they have responded to multiple calls each day. Of these, more than 50 per cent have not required transportation to hospital.
The new Mental Wellbeing Response Team demonstrates the success of partners working together to respond to the needs of Ottawa’s communities and providing individuals with the most appropriate health care when and where they need it.