Mental Health Unit

Teenager holding up a "Help" sign

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The Ottawa Police Service Mental Health Unit (MHU) responds to calls related to mental health issues. Some of the Unit's responsibilities are:

  • Linking members of the public with community resources and support systems, during and following a crisis.
  • Assisting front line officers with cases that fall under the Mental Health Act (MHA).
  • Working with community partners in mental health networks to identify and resolve community issues.
  • Managing MHA forms (1, 2, 3, and others as necessary).

The MHU consists of four Constables who work in partnership with the Ottawa Hospital Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) ― a team comprised of social workers and nurses trained in mental health.  The team also has a consulting psychiatrist who is available to go out on mobile assessments in the community.

Also visit our Safety and Crime Prevention pages for Mental Health.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

 

What grounds do police need to apprehend somebody under the Mental Health Act?

Under certain conditions, police officers in Ontario have the authority to 'take someone into custody to an appropriate place for examination by a physician,' according to Police Powers (Section 17) of Ontario's Mental Health Act :

Where a police officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a person is acting or has acted in a disorderly manner and has reasonable cause to believe that the person,

(a) has threatened or attempted or is threatening or attempting to cause bodily harm to himself or herself;

(b) has behaved or is behaving violently towards another person or has caused or is causing another person to fear bodily harm from him or her; or

(c) has shown or is showing a lack of competence to care for himself or herself, and in addition the police officer is of the opinion that the person is apparently suffering from mental disorder of a nature or quality that likely will result in,

(d) serious bodily harm to the person;

(e) serious bodily harm to another person; or

(f) serious physical impairment of the person, and that it would be dangerous to proceed under section 16(Form 2), the police officer may take the person in custody to an appropriate place for examination by a physician.'

What is a Form 1?

A Form 1 is an 'Application for Psychiatric Assessment' made by a physician, "which authorizes the apprehension, detention and assessment of a person" who meets certain criteria under the Mental Health Act.If a person has seen a physician for any reason, that physician may -- within seven days of seeing the person -- complete a Form 1 which specifies symptoms the doctor observed and/or information provided by someone else. Once the person is brought to a Schedule 1 Hospital* under a Form 1, the person must be assessed within 72 hours and a decision made to either:

  • Admit the person on an involuntary status (i.e. not allowed to leave the hospital without permission)
  • Admit the person on a voluntary status (i.e. you can choose to remain in the hospital)
  • Release the person from the hospital as they do not require admission.

* All Ottawa area hospitals are Schedule 1 Hospitals.

What is a Form 2 and how do I get one?

A Form 2 is an application requiring the apprehension and transport of a person to a physician. Any person may apply for a Form 2 from a Justice of the Peace at the Court House located at 161 Elgin St., Ottawa.The physician then determines if the patient requires an involuntary psychiatric assessment (Form 1) and if this is the case, the patient will be required to be brought to a Schedule 1 Hospital where psychiatric examinations can be performed on a 24-hour per day, seven-day per week basis.The person applying for the Form 2 must provide enough information for the Justice of the Peace to be assured of the necessity of the Form 2. There are four categories of relevant information:

  • Evidence of mental illness -- by history, or if no diagnosis has been made, by description of symptoms and behaviour (e.g., responding to voices, delusions, bizarre and/or disorganized behaviour).
  • Danger to self or others -- made suicidal statements, gestures or behaviours, threatened or assaulted others, or behaviour that has made the applicant fear people may be assaulted/at risk.
  • Failure to care for his/her own needs -- concrete examples such as no coat or socks in winter, no food in kitchen, looks weak or dehydrated, refusing food because of fear of poison, a medical condition not attended to (e.g., refusing cast on broken arm, ignoring infection) because of psychiatric symptoms.
  • There is an additional page where you will be asked for your name and phone number and a blank portion for your written concerns. Please provide all of your phone numbers and ensure Emergency Department staff can reach you. PLEASE provide written details in this blank portion to assist Emergency Department Staff to understand your concerns. The blank portion is your opportunity to state your concerns clearly and in writing. It is especially helpful if you attach a letter outlining your concerns.
  • Once the Form 2 is issued, it should be immediately taken to one of the information desks at our police stations . You will then be required to:
  • Provide a phone number to contact you.
  • If the person has been treated at a particular hospital, request that he/she be taken to the hospital where medical record already exists.
  • Attach a copy of the written summary of illness for the receiving doctor and of any other conditions, stapled to the form.
  • Provide as much information as possible about any history of violence, the presence of weapons (type & location), and any other information for the safety of the person being apprehended and the police.
  • Provide as much information as possible about person's probable whereabouts.
  • Keep a copy of the form.
  • Get the occurrence number and/or case number from the police.

Resources

  • Crisis Line: A Crisis Service staffed by professionally trained volunteers who answer calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Distress Centre Ottawa: For individuals 16 years or older living in Ottawa or the Counties of Prescott & Russell, Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, Renfrew, and Akwesa.
  • The Royal Ottawa Crisis Line
  • Youth Services BureauAn organization offering support and innovative services and programs to youth in the community.