Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC) Pilot Project: A Review of Transformative Measures in Mental Health Crisis Management

ARCC Pilot Project

This is one of the first-ever joint efforts between Shared Health and Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).

Its launch in 2021 was the Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC) pilot project aiming at changing how mental health crises are addressed.

It was done by sending mental health clinicians together with plainclothes officers. Reducing reliance on emergency services for these cases was the main aim.

Progress and Impact of ARCC Pilot Project

The recently issued year-end report for the ARCC pilot project provides good grounds to say that it has been a huge success.

The initiative, which aimed at realizing most of its goals, achieved or surpassed most of them.

In 2022 alone, police officers were successful in bringing fewer people suffering from mental illness to emergency rooms by an incredible 29%.

Income levels fell as low as 91% after their clients received care inside their neighborhoods without interruption.

Overwhelmly, almost all collaborating community agencies (96%) are very confident about continuing with the plan.

Funding Boost and Obstacles

In June 2022, a massive cash injection totaling $414,000 was made into the program by a former Progressive Conservative government to aid in scaling up its operations.

However, staffing challenges were faced by the project, a common issue as pointed out by Marion Cooper who is CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

Ms. Coopersaid that this concern around understaffing is not only unique to ARCC but also experienced nationwide.

This has led to reduction of outreach services like Mobile Crisis due to increasing demand for mental health and substance abuse services compared with growth in available resources.

Adapting How Services Are Delivered

Cooper acknowledged that there had been a change where service-oriented units like Mobile Crisis were shifted from being community-based to functioning within the Crisis Response Centre, citing over-demand.

An Appraisal Study and Next Steps

Emphasizing on urgency for better response system; Cooper highlighted the necessity of full approach that emphasizes on non-violent and support measures when addressing immediate safety worries.

Shared Health’s Reaction

Meanwhile, Shared Health declined an interview but issued a statement confirming the appointment of two new crisis clinicians for the ARCC program in October. They also expressed the availability of care 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Insights from Mental Health Advocates

This demonstrates how important it is to learn de-escalation techniques in handling mental health crises as explained by Mr. Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC).

He goes ahead to say that officers trained in slow, supportive methods are essential for helping people out of crisis situations.

Culture Awareness and De-escalation

According to Summerville, though, police officers must become aware of their own biases and change mental images about how a mental health crisis could be related to factors such as nationality, race or psychological disorders.

He suggested that instead of uniformed contacts with individuals involved in incidents that might have been traumatic or stressful plainclothes approaches could be employed by such officers.

Training Sessions and Readiness

Summerville stressed more training time for police officers dealing with mental health crises as vital due to de-escalation being critical.

He believed there was need for training protocols related to crisis management to respond better with changing circumstances.

Problems and Gaps

However hard everyone works at their training plans, no matter how well they execute their de-escalation tactics on site, not all attempts at de-escalation will succeed according to Mr. Summerville.

This is since there are a few individuals who may refuse to comply resulting into possible danger situations arising out it.

Police Response and Areas for Improvement

Summerville pointed out the need for more intense police training especially in addressing mental health crises as well as the necessity of having a more inclusive and tough teaching.

It should be noted that there was no response from Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) to Summerville’s request for an interview on ARCC program.

However, he said that it is therefore important to invest more in training officers in how to respond to mental health crisis as part of effective crisis management.

The ARCC pilot project demonstrated incredible success towards transforming emergency response systems for mental health crises.

In addition, there are still challenges ahead like personnel shortages and the need to improve officer training.

Being on familiar terms with cultural sensitivity and de-escalation tactics is essential when it comes to establishing safer encounters between law enforcers and individuals with psychological disorders.

With this being said, the stakeholders agree that there should be more resources and support put into these programs while looking out for the distressed members of the society without endangering both parties involved (Beaudoin, 2014).

Mental Health Topics (A-Z)

  • Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC) Pilot Project: A Review of Transformative Measures in Mental Health Crisis Management