Transforming the way we help people who are experiencing urgent, non-emergency mental or emotional distress.
In 2022, The Alex Community Health Centre was chosen to deliver an innovative pilot program to provide mobile crisis response. Led by The Alex, in partnership with the City of Calgary, the Calgary Police Service and the Calgary Distress Centre, the Community Mobile Crisis Response (CMCR) pilot program is designed to fill existing gaps in Calgary’s current crisis response system. After a successful pilot, the CMCR program will be expanded to service the entire city of Calgary.
CMCR’s goal is to divert crisis calls concerning mental health, substance use, basic needs, and housing instability away from law enforcement and other emergency services – reducing the stigma associated with accessing mental health services and offering a community-oriented response tailored to the specific needs of people in crisis.
Dispatched via 911 and 211 calls, CMCR teams respond to non-violent crisis situations 7 days a week, from 8am to 2am (with the last call at 12:30am). As a co-response model, each mobile crisis team consists of a healthcare professional, a trained support worker, and a plain clothes police officer. Teams use the fundamentals of crisis intervention, trauma-informed care, and harm reduction principles to ensure that all Calgarians have access to appropriate resources and support that meets them where they are at.
CMCR offers both primary and secondary supports. Primary support includes immediate crisis response; secondary supports consist of voluntary follow-up case management, where case managers connect with the individual 24-28 hours after the initial crisis to address long-term needs such as social service referrals and basic needs, with the goal of promoting future crisis prevention.
CMCR collaborates with community agencies, including the AHS Mobile Response Team (MRT), AHS Police and Crisis Teams (PACT), Social Services, and others.
“This coordinated approach to crisis response is reducing barriers and systemic stigma by offering critical mental health support that meets the needs of those experiencing crisis. We are moving the needle for our community and beginning to see a positive impact on community-based crisis response in our city,”Jennifer Eyford, Director of Mental Health, Addiction and Outreach at The Alex.
The CMCR program is transforming crisis care in Calgary and adding to the full-circle support for which The Alex has been known for the last 50 years.
The CMCR pilot program was made possible through funding from The Community Safety Investment Framework, a collaborative effort between The City of Calgary and the Calgary Police Service (CPS) to improve support for Calgarians experiencing crises.