Media Release – Northwestern Health Unit – Improved Crisis Response and Harm Reduction Outreach Coming to Sioux Lookout

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), Sioux Lookout Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) and Canadian Mental Health Association, Kenora Branch (CMHA) will be working together on a Crisis Response and Harm Reduction Mobile Outreach Team for Sioux Lookout Ontario, with funding support from Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program.

This project aims to build off the Joint Mobile Crisis Response Program, which was a short-term collaboration between the Meno Ya Win Health Centre and the Sioux Lookout OPP, made possible by short-term funding obtained through a Government of Ontario Proceeds of Crime Frontline Policing Grant. The previous program employed a single mental-health clinician who worked directly with frontline police to respond to mental health and addictions related police calls for service. This pilot project was operational from February 2019 to February 2020, during which time the Joint Mobile Crisis Response Team was able to connect with approximately 150
individuals experiencing crisis, providing these individuals with direct access to appropriate health care and support services.

The new Crisis Response and Harm Reduction Mobile Outreach Team will consist of health professionals including nurses, counsellors from Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority’s mental health department – Nodin Mental Health Services, and a physician to increase capacity around crisis response, harm reduction and case management in Sioux Lookout. The project will also support an after-hours call-in/text line managed by Nahnahda-Wee-ee-Waywin that
provides 24/7 crisis intervention services to individuals in local and remote communities. The goals of this program include improving collaboration amongst local and regional service providers provide timely access to mental health and addictions services and reducing the
number of incidents that result in emergency department visits and criminal charges.

The project will be administered at Northwestern Health Unit on behalf of the group. Gillian Lunny, Manager of Sexual Health and Harm Reduction at Northwestern Health Unit says “We are thrilled to be able to have all these partners come together to develop solutions to some of the issues that people in Sioux Lookout face when it comes to substance use disorder or problematic drug use and substance use.” Planning for the team has begun however with the COVID 19 pandemic it is unclear when they will be able to be fully operational.