HealthIM: Digital Mental Health Strategy

Rationale / Objectives

Mental health problems impact our society significantly and cost approximately $50 billion per year in Canada. Additionally, mental illness has become the leading cause of disability in Canada, and can greatly affect an individual's life expectancy.2 Therefore, there is a need for health-care focused technologies to address this economic burden, in addition to ensuring that people get the help they need.

Project/Program Description & Major Achievements

HealthIM created the "Brief Mental Health Screener", a mental health crisis management tool that works in partnership with the Brantford Police force, to use existing support services to change the way that mental health crises are addressed. The software is currently being used in an experimental capacity. HealthIM facilitates communication between officers, mobile crisis teams, and community healthcare partners. The system is being used to help find candidates for proactive support and intervention which results in decreased future calls for service. Health IM was created with help from Nipissing UniversityBrantford General Hospital, and Health Innovation Team: St. Leonard's Community Service.

Other police departments that have implemented the HealthIM include: Smiths Falls Police Department, London Police Department, Niagara Regional Police Service

Lessons Learned

HealthIM was able to leverage existing support services to make a change in the way that mental health crises are addressed. With the use of this crisis support system, the Brantford Police department will be able to increase the diversion rate to community-based services instead of the hospital, increase the appropriate hospital admission rate after apprehension, and reduce the number of repeated mental health calls that are received.

Further Description

HealthIM allows officers to fill out a 30 question standardized form within minutes inside their cruiser to identify what they are seeing in medical terms. The system will be able to calculate the risk of self-harm, harm to others and failure to care for themselves. This information can then be used to support the police officers decision and allow for a more meaningful response. The information that is entered by the police officer in their cruiser is immediately sent to the individuals in the hospital that will be caring for the patient. This allows the medical staff to be proactive, and for officers to have to spend less time at the hospital. Previously, police could spend up to 4 hours at the hospital to see if the individual was going to be admitted to the hospital.2 The system will keep records of previous police encounters to keep track of escalating risks for an individual that is struggling with mental health problems.3

HealthIM was a project supported by the Health Technologies Fund (HTF). The HTF is put together by Ontario's Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS)  and is administered by Ontario Centres of Excellence

Major Achievements

The HealthIM software has been able to achieve great results.

18 referrals have been made so far by the Smith Falls Police Department 3, and the use of HealthIM at the Brantford Police Service, the London Police Service, and Niagara Regional Police Service has resulted in:4




Apprehension Rate

 46% Fewer Apprehensions

Apprehension rate refers to the number of mental health crisis calls that result in apprehension to a psychiatric facility for emergency mental health assessment.

Average Wait Time

39% Reduced Hospital Wait Time

Average wait time refers to the average time that officers spend waiting at the facility for transfer of care to take place.

Admission Rate

37% Increased Admission Rate

The number of apprehensions that result in the individual being admitted to the facility.