Mental Health Unit

In October of 2011, the VPD and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) committed to work together to improve the quality of life for their mutual clients who suffer from mental illness and problematic substance use and addiction.

The collaboration is aimed at reducing harm to clients and to the community, as well as reducing the clients’ involvement with the criminal justice system, law enforcement, and emergency health services.

The VPD's Mental Health Unit and involvement with the VCH Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams and the Assertive Outreach Team (AOT) were the result of this agreement.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams

Assertive Community Treatment teams are full-service mental health programs providing "wrap-around" care. The first ACT team was created in January of 2012. The five Vancouver ACT teams are managed by Vancouver Coastal Health.

There are 10 to 12 people on an ACT team, including psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, vocational counsellors, occupational and recreational therapists, and peer counsellors, among others. Two full-time VPD officers work with the teams, providing daily police support.

Teams focus on the well-being of clients who are experiencing challenges related to community living, and who have an extensive history of police involvement and high use of health services. They have high-risk behaviour and long-standing complex mental health issues. Their goal is to provide longer-term psychosocial support to prepare clients for a successful transition to community-based care.

ACT teams may assist with finding long-term 24/7 health care, support with life skills, job training, assistance with housing, and help maintaining physical and mental wellness.

Assertive Outreach Team (AOT)

The Assertive Outreach Team is a VPD / Vancouver Coastal Health mental health program, which began in March 2014. The team provides short-term transitional support for clients with moderate to severe substance use and/or mental health issues as they go from hospital or jail to a community service provider. The clients are often experiencing challenges living in the community, and have a history of police involvement and complex mental health issues.

Team members are psychiatrists, nurses, clinical supervisors, and police officers. During a one- to two-month period, the team connects individuals with their primary care provider and uses a creative and collaborative problem-solving approach. The goal is to reduce incidents of violence and self-harm, prevent further deterioration in their quality of life, and reduce their involvement with the criminal justice system.

Police officers play a larger role in the AOT than the ACT, including locating clients who may be at-risk and preventing issues before they happen.

Pathway to Wellness: Vancouver Police and health care team up to help people living with mental illness

Watch this video created by Vancouver Police to highlight the many partnerships and initiatives the Department is involved in to lessen the impact untreated mental illness has on the community, on policing, on health services, and, most importantly, on those living with mental illness.

Pathway to Wellness was created with input from Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, and tells the fictional story of John, as he first encounters police while in a mental health crisis. As he moves from the first interaction with police through the complicated and many-layered web of integrated resources available, viewers will come away with a better understanding of how it all fits together.


VGH Access and Assessment Centre
Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre
Level 1 East Entrance
803 W.12th Avenue
(604) 675-3700

This is the single point of access for Vancouver adults aged 17 and up who are having a mental health crisis or have had an incident involving misusing substances.

The Centre is open 24 hours a day. Anyone can walk in or call (604) 675-3700, including family members, and access health care services or have an assessment onsite.

Canadian Mental Health Association

Healthlink BC

Car 87

The Car 87 Program has been teaming a Vancouver Police officer with a mental health professional since 1978. They provide on-site assessments and intervention for people living with mental illness.

Learn more about Car 87.

Mental Health Strategy and Reports

Read about the VPD's comprehensive approach for a proportional police response to persons living with mental illness in the Vancouver Police Mental Health Strategy (2016).

Vancouver's Mental Health Crisis

Lost in Transition - Part Two

Lost in Transition (2008)

Youth Resources

BC Children's Hospital
Mental Health Services

Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre
(604) 875-2084