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Ontarians need Integrated Crisis Centres


Our community is facing growing mental health and substance-use crises, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a chronically underfunded mental healthcare sector.  Integrated Crisis Centres (ICC) provide a compelling solution, employing a collaborative and concurrent-care approach which aims to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

What is an Integrated Crisis Centre?

Integrated Crisis Centres provide trauma-informed and therapeutic environments, staffed by professionals trained extensively in mental health and substance-use. The aim of ICCs is to enhance recovery outcomes, improve collaboration among health care professionals, and optimize resource allocation by reducing the strain on overwhelmed hospitals and health care workers. Integrated Crisis Centres operate in collaboration with but are separate from hospitals. They are an alternate destination for people experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis. In addition to dedicated mental health professionals, people attending an ICC benefit from peer support – assistance from individuals with lived experience who can help them navigate not only their immediate crisis but the steps and days which follow.

Why do we need Integrated Crisis Centres?

The use of the emergency department has never been the best place to deliver crisis care for clients and families experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis.  20.3% of Emergency Department visits are for mental health and substance-use. Often, mental health and substance- use clients are left waiting hours and even days for assessment before any therapeutic treatment and care can be administered.

We know from client and family engagement that the experience can be stigmatizing and can increase, not decrease crisis symptoms because of the complex, busy and non-therapeutic nature of an emergency department environment.

What are next steps?

CMHA Waterloo Wellington and Thresholds Homes and Supports, with support from other healthcare and community partners, are working to bring an Integrated Crisis Centre to the Region of Waterloo. Without proper funding, Waterloo Region’s Integrated Crisis Centre will not be able to reach as many people as it needs to; nor will it be as accessible as it could be; and both organizations are actively working to get funding.

If you agree that this is a need in our community; that our hospitals are not the right place for mental health and substance-use crises; you may contact your local provincial representative to let them know you support this initiative and that it requires ongoing funding to be successful.

Watch our websites for updates on the progress of the Integrated Crisis Centre.

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