Get to know Brooke Young, Director of Services, Regional at CMHA Waterloo Wellington. Follow the ‘Faces of CMHA’ series for a glimpse into the lives of the people who spend each day working to make a difference at the Canadian Mental Health Association:
You never know what a day on the job can bring. Our IMPACT team meets with people across Waterloo Region, Guelph, and Wellington County every day, but there’s one story that sticks with me about the power of lending an ear.
It started with a routine phone call. Some months ago, IMPACT was called to the home of a person new to the service. It’s standard practice for our team to make visits to better support people with addictions and/or mental health issues who come into contact with police. IMPACT (short for Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team) works alongside police officers to support people in crisis and get them connected to appropriate services and supports. In this case, they insisted they were fine, had no plans of harming themselves, and didn’t need to go to the hospital.
Sometimes, your gut kicks in during a moment like that. Our IMPACT team member was concerned that there was more to the story, and they mentioned it to the officer as they were both leaving the scene. Together, they decided to go back to the person’s home and check in once again.
When they went back, the person asked, “How did you know to come back?” That day, IMPACT and police were able to save a life.
You never take those moments for granted. Today, a note still hangs in the IMPACT office: “Thank you for taking the time to piece together the things that no one else would have picked up.” It’s a situation our team will never forget.
Here at CMHA WW, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of services and supports to offer people in our community. In 2015, IMPACT was born when CMHA WW and Wellington OPP started providing a collaborative service to better support people with addictions and/or mental health issues who were coming into contact with police.
IMPACT teams are now working hard to support our policing partners seven days a week throughout our community. These teams are made up of addictions and mental health clinicians from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences who all share one thing in common:
They love the challenge of walking into a chaotic situation, trying to understand what someone needs, and finding creative ways to meet that need.
What IMPACT Does
There is no typical day-in-the-life when it comes to working in IMPACT. They respond to whatever situation policing partners need them to. Sometimes their office is the side of a highway, sometimes it’s a child’s bedroom, and sometimes it’s a busy downtown parking lot.
Why Our Staff Do This Role
IMPACT is not a role for everyone. It’s a role that comes with personal sacrifice, as team members work rotating schedules including evenings and weekends. It is also a role that often meets people when they are not at their best, and often involves bearing witness to the pain people are in. Our team members need to be calm under pressure and hold hope that better is possible. I asked our team why they do this work; here’s what they replied:
- No day is ever the same; it’s always an exciting challenge;
- I love being able to take part in finding the solution during times of extreme crisis;
- I love working collaboratively with officers and untangling complex issues using out of the box solutions;
- I work for IMPACT due to its uniqueness. I know I’m providing quality mental health care to those who otherwise might fall through the cracks, often at a time when those people may need it the most;
- Our team always works collaboratively to ensure we provide support to individuals in challenging situations;
- Our standards of service are held incredibly high across the entire team, and we all come to the role ready to give it our all in whatever situation we are presented with.
As one of the leaders supporting our IMPACT teams, I’m incredibly proud of the work they do and how they do it. What I love most of all is how they are always working creatively to keep people safe, connect them to services and supports, and let them know that they matter, regardless of where they are today. They truly are making an impact on people’s lives and in our communities.