Crisis programs support individuals in crisis and provide continued service based on urgency, so they are able to remain in their homes rather than in hospital. These crisis programs are available for individuals currently accessing mental health care services, as well as those requiring mental health care services for the first time. The crisis programs are fully integrated and coordinated with the hospital’s Mental Health program and the broader mental health care system.
Support for mental health crises can be accessed through the emergency departments at SHN’s Birchmount, Centenary, and General hospitals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hospital Crisis Program
The Hospital Crisis Program supports individuals who arrive at the hospital’s Birchmount and General hospitals’ emergency departments. A crisis worker is available on site 24/7 to provide assistance for individuals experiencing an emotional or psychiatric crisis. The program’s services are extended to all Scarborough residents.
Mental Health Crisis Team
A crisis response team is available in the emergency departments at the Centenary hospital seven days a week, sixteen hours a day. Individuals who present to the emergency department and are experiencing a mental health crisis will be assessed by a crisis worker. Treatment and recommendations will be made in consultation with a physician.
Serving the Scarborough and East York communities, the Community Crisis Program is for individuals who are 16 years or older and who are experiencing mental health symptoms, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety.
Staffed by professional crisis workers, services include:
- Telephone crisis support: 416-495-2891
- Crisis de-escalation and support
- Safety and crisis planning
- Mental health assessments and referrals to appropriate community resources
- Brief psychotherapies
- Community visits
Urgent care includes crisis assessment and brief intervention aimed at resolving immediate mental health crises for individuals who may have presented to the emergency department but did not require admission to hospital. A family physician from the community may also refer a patient to the urgent care service. Outpatient services can be contacted to discuss the referral process.
Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams
The Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCITs) are collaborative partnerships between participating Toronto area hospitals and the Toronto Police Service (TPS). The program partners a mental health nurse and a specially trained police officer to respond to situations involving individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Coverage is now available throughout the City of Toronto.
The MCIT’s mandate is to:
- Make an immediate on-site clinical assessment of the person in crisis
- Attempt to stabilize and defuse the crisis
- Assist in removing the individual from serious harm to themselves or others
- Provide supportive counselling, as needed
- Arrange appropriate mental health treatment through referrals to an appropriate agency or apprehension under the Mental Health Act
- Coordinate and facilitate transportation to the hospital emergency department if further psychiatric and medical assessment is required
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you cannot call an MCIT directly. If you or someone around you is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the Toronto Police Service at 416-808-2222 or 911 in an emergency.
No. Priority Response Units (PRU) are the officers that respond to all calls for service including 911 emergency calls. They will attend calls for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis first to ensure it is safe for the nurse. The MCIT will then attend as secondary responders when the PRU indicates it’s safe to do so.
Although MCITs have traditionally been considered secondary responders, the program has evolved since its inception in 2000. The MCITs now may operate as co-responders to calls that do not include weapons or any other identified safety concerns. This means, when appropriate, MCITs will respond simultaneously with Priority Response Unit officers.
The teams operate seven days a week and, depending on the team, will work beginning at 11 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. The hours are based on the times when the police receive the highest number of calls related to people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Yes, MCITs use police vans designated for MCIT.
The police officer has the responsibility to ensure individuals and the community are safe. However, police officers are able to use discretion in any situation where they may have to use handcuffs.
An individual who may be experiencing a mental health crisis that is potentially a danger to themselves or others may be apprehended by police under the MHA. In doing so, the individual will be taken to the nearest psychiatric facility which is most often the nearest hospital emergency room.
The Toronto Police Service is currently partnered with the following hospitals:
41/42/43 Divisions are partnered with Scarborough Health Network
11/14/22 Divisions are partnered with St. Joseph’s Health Centre
12/13/23/31 Divisions are partnered with Humber River Hospital
32/33 Divisions are partnered with North York General Hospital
51/52 Divisions are partnered with St. Michael’s Hospital
53/54/55 Divisions are partnered with Michael Garron Hospital