What is a Peer Assisted Care Team?
- Peer Assisted Care Teams (PACT) is a community-led response to a mental health crisis conducted by a peer and a mental health professional. This model uses a person-centered, trauma-informed approach to support individuals during a mental health and/or substance use crisis connecting them to community support and services.
Who is funding this community-led initiative?
- The Province of BC – Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction is a key partner and funder of the Peer Assisted Care Team Model in BC.
- In the inception year (2021-2022), we received funding from Municipalities in North Vancouver, Victoria, and New Westminster to support this pilot.
- CMHA BC engages with Municipalities, First Nations, Community-organizations, and various community stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the teams.
What is a community-led approach?
- A community-led approach is client-centered services administered by community organizations that have knowledge about community needs, services, and resources to help individuals and families navigate their needs.
- This is a consent-based service where the service is designed based on user or participant needs and available community support.
Who is on the team?
- Peer-Assisted Care Teams delivering the service are comprised of two (2) trained individuals with experience providing culturally safe and trauma-informed responses to people experiencing mental health and/or substance use crises.
- One (1) peer with lived and/or living expertise/experience and;
- One (1) mental health professional is partnered together.
- The team also includes supervision and support from other mental health professionals, managers, and administration within the organization.
- The team are employees of a local community organization.
- CMHA BC offers training and oversight to the teams.
Who can access support and service from PACT?
- PACT offers support to individuals 13+ and their families experiencing crises relating to mental health or substance use in a specific local community area.
What kinds of expertise does the Team have?
- Team members are hired based on their experience, education, and various factors outlined in a job description.
- All team members go through an evidence-based training curriculum that prepares them to respond to various crises (for example, people who are unhoused, mental health challenges, substance use challenges, have experienced trauma, gender-based violence, etc.).
- Ongoing training opportunities are organized based on what teams are seeing in their communities.
- The teams are comprised of people with diverse lived and professional experiences and have knowledge of the dynamics and lived experiences of the community they will serve.
- PACTs have access to the Provincial Peer Support Curriculum that was launched in 2021 and clinical, leadership, and administrative support to help lead an effective model to serve the community.
Are the police or first responders involved in a response by PACT?
- When you connect with PACT via text/call – a trained professional assess the crisis. If a team is dispatched to provide in-person support – two members will go out into the community to respond (no uniform).
- The team do not carry weapons and have no authority to arrest or detain persons against their will.
- If there is a risk of harm, violence, medical emergency, fire, or damage the team will connect with 9-1-1 for support upon assessing the situation.
- Emergency Services and police may connect with PACT to require assistance in response.
Does PACT provide medical support?
- Members of the team are trained with basic first aid and will contact emergency services if immediate medical attention is required.
- The choice of going to a hospital is a decision that rests with the individual. The team will provide information and support them if they decide that going to a hospital is the right choice for them.
- PACTs are not part of Health Authorities and do not share confidential information or apprehended individuals under the Mental Health Act.
What do teams respond to?
- PACT will respond to crisis calls from individuals, their families, and communities when someone is experiencing distress related to mental health or substance use.
What do teams NOT respond to?
- Teams responding to a distress call will not:
- Attend to high-risk physical injuries or harm (but can respond alongside a first responder);
- Perform psychological assessments to diagnose mental illnesses or write prescriptions for medication;
- Make referrals to psychiatrists or other medical specialists for specific treatments for mental or physical health conditions (but they can help you to access primary care);
- Fast-track applications for housing, income or disability assistance, or mental health services;
- Apprehend someone under the Mental Health Act
What communities have PACTs?
- The current communities that have PACTs are in New Westminster, North and West Vancouver, and Victoria. In 2023, the Province of BC announced Kamloops, Prince George, and Comox Valley as the next communities who will be receiving the service.
- CMHA BC in partnership with CMHA North and West Vancouver launched a pilot in November 2021 because the branch recognized a need in the community and engaged with key stakeholders and donors to support the program.
- CMHA BC worked with Victoria and New Westminster municipalities to bring the program to these communities and the Province of BC and municipalities supported and funded this expansion.
How is PACT expanding in BC?
- CMHA BC will be adding 7 more communities to the PACT Provincial network. The Province of BC announced funding for 10 community-led teams administered by CMHA BC and 2 teams led by Indigenous-led organizations.
- CMHA BC works closely with the Province of BC and continues to undertake research and engagement to support the identification of communities.
- CMHA BC undertook research to support the selection of 3 additional communities announced in Spring 2023 (Kamloops, Prince George and the Comox Valley). 4 communities remain to be selected.
- Communities and organizations can continue to connect with CMHA BC to learn more about PACT by emailing PACT@cmha.bc.ca.
Is each PACT in each community different?
- Every community is unique and CMHA BC engages in consultation before launching a PACT in a community.
- Each service provider is part of a Provincial network administered by CMHA BC and required to follow provincial standards for service, while adapting to community needs.
- Community stakeholders help define the need and the implementation plan of a community-led team.
How is CMHA BC engaging with communities?
- CMHA BC is committed to uplifting the voices of lived and living experiences in the work we do.
- In 2023, CMHA BC received many inquiries from communities across BC through the Recommend Your Community engagement to learn more about mental health ecosystems in various communities.
- CMHA BC has offered and continues to offer community info sessions to support community education and understanding about Peer Assisted Care Teams.
- CMHA BC actively supports engagement in communities alongside selected service providers to support them in planning for a service that will meet the needs of their communities, including but not limited to First Nations, Health Authorities, community social service agencies and people with lived and living experience.
Are there Indigenous-led PACTs?
- Funding has been set aside for 2 Indigenous-led teams which are yet to be identified. These teams funded by the Province of BC will be overseen by Indigenous-led organizations.
Can I volunteer or help in some way?
- We appreciate your interest in PACT. Members of the PACT teams are employees of community service providers providing the PACT service. You can subscribe to our newsletter to stay engaged about the work CMHA BC is doing or look to your local PACT teams about employment opportunities.
I have a compliment, concern, or question about PACT or a local PACT team, how can I file it?
- Please connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org