Mental health crisis getting worse, says Vancouver mayor
21% of all Vancouver police calls involve a person with an apparent mental disorder
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the city's mental health crisis is getting worse, and it is time the federal and provincial governments stepped up to help.
The mayor says city resources are being used by police to deal with the mentally ill, but the current situation is creating nothing but carnage for people who desperately need health care.
"We are now in a situation where there are hundreds of people with severe but untreated mental illnesses that are at a high risk to both themselves and to residents of the city," Robertson said.
"Since January of 2012, the VPD has identified 96 serious incidents ranging from suicides to random violent attacks on innocent members of the public. Let's be clear — these are entirely preventable incidents."
Robertson made the comments during a special announcement with police Chief Jim Chu on Friday morning at police headquarters.
Chu said police are becoming the first point of contact for severely mentally ill people who should be getting support and medical treatment, with 21 per cent of all Vancouver police calls involving a person with an apparent mental disorder.
"The answer for someone suffering a mental health crisis is not a cop with a gun. We need a shift from dealing with the crisis to preventing the crisis from occurring in the first place," Chu said.
Robertson says police can't be the first point of contact for the mentally ill, and the provincial government needs to step up and take responsibility for providing resources.
The mayor and chief have suggested a five-point plan to address the situation, including adding 300 long-term mental health treatment beds and more B.C. Housing facilities staff to help the mentally ill.
With files from the Canadian Press