Toronto police app maps out mental health services for people in crisis

May 19, 2017

Toronto police officers now have an app that will help them connect someone experiencing a mental health crisis with the support services closest to them.

But the hope, one of its creators says, is that the public starts using the app — which pinpoints the user's location and generates a map of services — to prevent an emergency.

"What we're working with our partners here to do, is to achieve some proactive success where individuals have access to the resources ... that they need before somebody needs to call 911," said Ian Williams,  manager of business intelligence and analytics for the police.

Williams's team developed the app, which is called the Community Asset Portal, with the help of Ryerson University geography students using data from Toronto's 211 program. 

25,000 mental health calls a year

Officers working in the mobile crisis intervention unit, which responds to mental health calls with a nurse or social worker, have been using the app for about four months.

So far, the app is seeing about 50 hits a day, Williams said.

Toronto police receive an average of 70 mental-health calls each day, according to their statistics. That works out to roughly 25,000 each year.

About half of those end with someone being taken to a hospital or another institution, Williams said. 

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