July 09, 2020 – Crisis Services Canada (CSC) joins leading Canadian mental healthcare and suicide prevention organizations in advocating for a transformative change to mental health crisis care. Recent events have brought to light the tragic results when emergency responders, including police who lack adequate training to de-escalate a mental health crisis, are called to a situation where there is a high risk of suicide. This is of particular concern to Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who are subjected to systematic racism and as a result disproportionately experience harm in these situations. CSC believes there must be a healthcare-focused approach that emphasizes the safety and dignity of the person at risk. In particular, we believe it does not serve anyone’s best interests to have police respond with protocols that involve the use of force to address health-related issues.
CSC is working with sector peers to advocate for alternatives to current practices. An important part of this work is engaging BIPOC stakeholder groups so that the way forward can be built on principles and practices that are safe, equitable and which honour all cultures across all populations in the country.
There is much work to do, but CSC is committed to doing its part to develop a safe, non-violent, user-centric approach to mental health crises when a life is at risk.