“You are always very welcome,” said the pretty octogenarian to two SPVM police officers, a clinical nurse, a psychiatrist and her interns, who all arrived at her home on a cold February morning. These members of the Echinopsis pilot will follow such a home by doing the processes from 2022 to help citizens and connect them to mental services. It also results, they believe, in bringing complaints more often to the police or on behalf of those whose mental state is disturbed. Le Devoir was the first to accompany this interdisciplinary team on the ground in Montreal.
Nothing suggests the difficulty of this smiling woman when she chats with Terri Cocco, an agent in the SPVM socio-community and responsible for the Echinops project at the Saint-Michel district station. The agent asks her politely to see if she is being addressed and if her relatives are taking care of her.
“I’m not crazy,” he repeats from his anonymous building in the field of Saint-Michel.
But she recently made several calls to the police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM): a neighbor entered her house to steal personal items and “followed” her movements from one room to another from her room located on the upper floor. When questioned, he adds that the husband of the neighbor also stuck his fingers in the eyes of the boy who was in his cell. “He has lost an eye. As proof, he shows a board with a photograph of a child: his eyes have been completely scraped off, leaving a disturbing image.
Psychiatrist Aloisius De Benedictis takes over: “What day is it? He inquires about the medicines prescribed for him. Étienne Boucher, a clinical nurse, examines them and checks if they really swallow.
A little later, on the sidewalk, the team restores to the condition of the race, as is done after each visit.
There are elements of persecution, perhaps hallucinations. There are a lot of inconsistencies in his speech, but he is organized and organized”, summarizes the resident doctor in psychiatry, Maria Vincent-Tremblay.
They agree on the following: consult her hospital file to check if she has followed a doctor, otherwise “we will try to suspend her with the health services”, says the psychiatrist.
I never feel like helping people as much as those days.
Every Thursday, teams travel through the regions of Saint-Michel and Saint-Léonard, alternating each day with Mr. De Benedictis, who is attached to the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, holding the pole. this document.
“It never pleases me to help as much as those days,” summed up the SPVM partner-community company Julie Mazerolle, who heads the Echinops team “PDQ 42” in Saint-Léonard.
Mental health calls galore
The police observation was as follows: more and more people are being called to the services of Montrealers whose mental health is disturbed. Almost 80% of the calls, according to the head of the SPVM, Fady Dagher.
And if the police are not mental health experts, they are often the first to arrive at 911 after a call.
The idea of this thing therefore germinated in the minds of police officers and psychiatrists who saw the problems in the field. “Police and social services, we are like two parallel systems that do not talk to each other. We had to find a way to tie the two together and help these people,” explains Constable Mazerolle.
Dr., ON THE BENEDICT OF HOMER He offered himself. “Why don’t we go visit them in their house?” »
“We are sick, we are perishing,” he sighs. We see them in the bedroom for a while, but then we don’t see them again. And there are police officers who interact with these people more often than mental health professionals. He sees people locked in their homes for months and others who don’t seek help because they don’t realize they have mental illness. The presence of the police during the visits is necessary because the patients are explained to be “vagrants”.
To each his own, adds Agent Cocco. People get care, their mental health is assessed and the police receive fewer complaints: it takes time to investigate and shows the capabilities of the police.
This is the case of this man who blew out more than 80 candles: he made many complaints against the bank and its employees. “They are tired,” he repeated to the team during the second visit of Echinops.
This team is made up of the same expert doctor, as well as constable Mazerolle and a colleague of the police. They went knocking at his house at Saint Leonard’s. He opened the door, and was pleased to visit. The man suffered a stroke (cerebrovascular accident) and lost his memory. He cannot tell the day or the year. He doesn’t remember the deductions he made, he immediately explains that he’s sad.
At once the psychiatrist and the nurse were worried: had he even forgotten to take his medication? They check every bottle. Does the doctor have a family? He does not know. “We’ll check,” he said in order. He needs a social worker to help him with his money.
One year, only one person refused to open the door, agent Mazerolle says: “We see people, they need so much help. If we can influence the trajectory, that’s great. The magistrates helped them, but not so organized as Echinops.
All members of the group hope that the initiative will be “exported”.
Echinops has attracted great interest from the start — even winning an award — and the current pilot aims, among other things, to evaluate the possibility of expanding to other areas of Montreal, says SPVM.
“It’s going to happen,” summarizes the agent Mazerolle.