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Gerstein Crisis Centre: Mobile Crisis Team
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What you need to know?
The Mobile Crisis Intervention Team is a non-police crisis response team, based out of the Gerstein Crisis Centre. Gerstein Crisis Centre has been providing 24/7 community-based crisis intervention services to individuals living in Toronto for over 30 years. Police are not attached to these services. The Centre serves individuals who are 16 years of age and older and living with serious mental health and/or substance use issues and are experiencing a crisis. They are a community-based, stand-alone centre and operate separately from the hospital and from the police, providing an alternative approach to crisis services when emergency responses are not needed or can be avoided.
Individuals experiencing a mental health and/or substance use crisis can call their telephone crisis line and receive telephone or virtual support from qualified professional crisis workers including people with lived experience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Along with this crisis line, a mobile crisis team can visit people in their home or at a safe location in the community and connect people to a variety of community-based crisis beds and crisis follow-up services. While most of the crisis calls resolve over the telephone, the Mobile Crisis Team travels to the client when an in-person intervention is needed or at the request of the caller. The need for a Crisis Stay will be determined through the mobile visit and follow-up services can be provided at any juncture.
Many individuals do not know where to turn to when they, or someone they are worried about, are in crisis. Individuals are unable to find services and resources early on before a crisis ensues, during a crisis and following a crisis. The Mobile Crisis Team focuses on the client in crisis and their expressed needs, providing low-barrier access to services and non- intrusive interventions in which collaboration and client choice are at the core. Referrals are accepted but not required. Clients retain autonomy in making decisions that will support their recovery process and improve health outcomes. Callers can use service once and never again or whenever they need to.
Building trusting relationships with clients works effectively and can often help avoid a crisis from developing. This can also lead to quicker de-escalation of crises if these do take place. Crisis intervention in the community also has the added benefit of reducing unnecessary interactions with the police and hospital system. The Mobile Crisis Team works with the individual and those concerned about them to support their needs and provide interventions and options that help people make decisions about what is best for their own mental health and well-being. The team does not use a one-size-fits-all strategy.
The promising practice can be found in English here and French here