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Tri-Cities MLAs 'grateful' for new mobile mental health teams

Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam politicians hope the roll-out can help break barriers for times of crises.
Mental health - Getty
B.C. recently unveiled a new $3-million investment for a slate of mobile mental health crisis response teams, including one for the Tri-Cities.

Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam will soon share a new response team to help local residents in times of emotional distress.

Last Monday (July 17), in Coquitlam, the B.C. government unveiled a $3-million investment to form the Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Team (MICR) — a service advocated for a long period of time in the Tri-Cities.

Provincial politicians that represent the region welcome the funding for what was formerly known as Car programs, noting it can open doors for those with little-to-no access to health providers.

"Dealing with people in distress is never easy, and I am so grateful to the mental health professionals who are dedicated to serving and caring for this community," said Coquitlam–Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson in a statement provided to the Tri-City News.

"Not only do programs like MICR help remove barriers for those seeking help in a mental health crisis, but also makes sure that these community members are connected with services to help them in the long-term."

The Tri-Cities-based MICR team are set to include an RCMP officer with a health-care professional.

The unit would be asked to intervene when someone reports a mental-health or substance-use crisis to local police, who'd then provide assessments, intervention and referrals for the proper community resources.

According to the province, the MICR program hopes to free up police resources for criminal investigations.

"We have heard from many police departments and health authorities who currently run Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Teams that the programs are extremely helpful — and the demand is growing," said Mike Farnworth, Port Coquitlam MLA, deputy premier, public safety minister and solicitor general.

"Mental health professionals bring unique and compassionate perspectives to mental health crises," added Coquitlam–Maillardville MLA Fin Donnelly.

"Investing in programs like MIRC, helps build trauma informed communities and allows police to focus on law enforcement, making our communities safer for everyone."

Coquitlam/Port Coquitlam is one of eight other communities set to roll out an MICR team:

  • Abbotsford
  • Burnaby
  • Chilliwack
  • Penticton
  • Prince Rupert
  • Squamish
  • Vernon
  • Westshore

The B.C. government said, in its announcement, units are set to begin a recruitment process for additional staff with the goal of mobilizing MICR services "as quickly as possible."

- with a file from Diane Strandberg, Tri-City News