If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or has thoughts of suicide:
call the 24-hour, seven day Talk Suicide Canada helpline at 1-833-456-4566 (toll free)
or go to your nearest hospital emergency department
If you or someone else is experiencing a mental health crisis, there are options on who to call:
Call 2-1-1 for community or government services
Call 416-808-2222 for a non-emergency police response
Call 9-1-1 for an emergeny response by police, fire or ambulance
Visit our Make the Right Call webpage to learn more about how to find the right service.
Non-Emergency and Emergency Mental Health Response
I'm concerned my neighbour needs mental health support
I think my friend needs help for a mental health crisis
I think someone is in immediate danger of harming themselves
Mental Health Programs, Initiatives, and Community Partners
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) is committed to providing an appropriate and compassionate response to those members of our communities who are experiencing crises related to mental health and/or addictions, while ensuring the well-being, safety, rights and dignity of individuals and communities.
The TPS has a number of programs and initiatives designed to both:
- enhance the capability and capacity of our members to respond to calls for service involving individuals living with mental health and addictions issues, and
- become increasingly more collaborative with community partners who support the same – including supporting alternative models of mental health crisis response.
Some such initiatives are listed with links and briefly described below. Also listed are some mental health and addictions resources in the community that can assist in navigating the vast support system in Toronto.
TPS Mental Health and Addictions Coordinators are the Service’s corporate advocates for, and liaisons to, Toronto’s Mental Health community. The Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit Coordinators overarching goals are to enhance the ability and capacity of our Members to respond compassionately to the needs of our communities while working with community partners toward an increasingly collaborative system response to community members experiencing Mental Health and Addictions related crises. The Coordinators support both TPS Members and external partners at a time when Mental Health systems and responses are evolving globally.
TPS/Gerstein Crisis Centre ‘Crisis Call Diversion’ Program
This initiative sees a Crisis Worker from Gerstein Crisis Centre (GCC) co-located in TPS’ 9-1-1 Communications Call Centre. TPS and GCC responders work collaboratively, but distinctly, to assist in the diversion of non-emergent mental health related calls away from a police response. TPS call-takers evaluate incoming calls for diversion based on specific non-imminent risk criteria and transfer calls to the GCC crisis worker where appropriate. The crisis worker can provide immediate support and intervention, along with referrals and connection to further services as needed.
The MCITs are a collaborative partnership between TPS and our six partner hospitals. The program pairs a mental health nurse with a specially trained police officer, and the teams respond exclusively to situations involving individuals experiencing a mental health related crisis. The mandate of the teams is crisis assessment and stabilization, acute supportive counselling and the coordination of appropriate mental health treatment – be it via psychiatric assessment at a nearby hospital or through a referral to community services for ongoing support.
FOCUS Toronto is a collaboration of over 160 community agencies, led by a cross-sector partnership between the Toronto Police Service, the City of Toronto and the United Way of Greater Toronto. The model brings the agencies together at weekly situation tables to provide a focused, wrap-around, risk-mitigation approach to help the most vulnerable individuals and families who are at an elevated risk of harm and/or victimization.
FOCUS referrals must come from one of the partner organizations who sit at the tables. The program is not directly accessible to members of the public.
The recently developed Military Veterans Wellness Program has streamlined the referral process through which frontline police officers are able to connect veterans living with mental health and/or addictions issues to the supportive services and benefits that are available to them. TPS has partnered with Veteran's Affairs Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion and Operational Stress Injury Social Support in the delivery of this program - which is available to police officers across the country.
The Service’s naloxone program was initiated in June 2018 and focused primarily on the downtown core during the first phase. The Service has since expanded the program, and now all frontline members across the City are issued and trained in the use of the life-saving medication. TPS members administered Naloxone 124 times in 2022, up from 91 administrations in 2021.
Naloxone is used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid drugs such as fentanyl, percocet, morphine, methadone and heroin. It is easy to administer and, though it is not useful in reversing the effects of overdoses of non-opioid drugs like amphetamines or cocaine, it won’t cause harm if administered to someone who doesn’t need it.
Don’t let legal fears stop you from getting help. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act is Federal legislation that provides legal protection if you experience or witness an overdose and call 911 for help.
The Board’s Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Panel was established in 2019 (replacing the Board’s similarly purposed Mental Health Sub-Committee). The Board and the Service consult regularly with the Panel on policy, process, and strategic direction related to serving the mental health community in Toronto.
MHAAP is comprised of members of the Board, members of the Service and members of the community, ensuring representation from organizations run by and for people having lived experience with mental health and/or addictions issues. The membership reflects the diversity of Toronto with representatives from groups and/or organizations serving youth, marginalized and racialized groups.
In 2019, TPS launched its Mental Health and Addictions Strategy (Read the report here). Developed collaboratively with the Toronto Police Service Board’s Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Panel (MHAAP), the Strategy contains a set of 46 Action Items that serve as a framework for a dynamic and evolving roadmap that guides our growth as we continually strive to enhance our ability to respond compassionately to community members in crisis. Follow this link to view the Strategy ‘Implementation Dashboard’ where updates to each of the Action Items can be found.
How do Police Respond to a Person in a Mental Health, Emotional or Substance Abuse Crisis?
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) responded to over 33,000 mental health related calls in 2022. Our mandate continues to be the preservation of life and community safety.
All TPS officers receive ongoing training in mental health and de-escalation and are trained to assess an individual in crisis as well as their environment. During interactions, officers focus on building rapport with the individual in hopes of building trust. Officers also inform individuals of follow-up supports that are available through local community service providers.
Read Our Person in Crisis procedure to learn about our role and responsibilities under the Mental Health Act.
The Mental Health Act also provides a means for people to receive an emergency assessment without their consent through the support of a Physician (Form 1) or a Justice of the Peace (Form 2). The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) provides a helpful guide to understanding Form 1 and Form 2 emergency assessments:
External Community Supports
TPS has collaborated with the City of Toronto on the recent deployment of the Toronto Community Crisis Service (TCCS). An alternative to a traditional police response, the TCCS represents a new approach to responding to people in a non-emergency mental health crisis that focuses on health, prevention and well-being. The goal of the TCCS is to provide a community based, client-centred and trauma-informed response to non-emergency crisis calls and wellness checks. Individuals experiencing or witnessing a mental health crisis can access the Toronto Community Crisis Service by calling 2-1-1 or 9-1-1. (The TCCS supports individuals 16 years of age and older). The TCCS anchor agencies and many of their supporting partners are also members of FOCUS Toronto.
Distress Centres of Greater Toronto 416-408-4357
A service agency dedicated to providing timely emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention to people in distress. They are a group of well-trained individuals who support those in crisis, at risk for suicide and those experiencing distress via inbound, outbound and in-person programs.
Gerstein Crisis Centre 416-929-5200
Gerstein’s crisis services include 24/7 telephone support, an in-person mobile crisis team, referrals to community supports, substance use crisis management, follow up and access to short term crisis beds. Crisis workers seek to help callers work out effective ways to address immediate difficulties and connect them to services that can offer ongoing support.
Kid's Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868
Since 1989, Kid’s Help Phone has been creating innovative supports for critical issues young people face. They are ever evolving so supports remain responsive to young people’s emotional and mental health needs - from crisis situations to the every-day concerns of growing up.
If young people need help right now, they can call or text a trained, volunteer crisis responder and receive free, confidential support.
A free, confidential helpline that simplifies finding support and community services. You can call 211 anytime. Live chat and texting services are available Monday – Friday, 7 am – 9 pm. Your calls and/or messages will be answered by trained ‘Information and Referral Specialists’ who can help you navigate supportive services that are available province wide.
The above link also allows you to search the online database of supports.
Connex Ontario 1-866-531-2600
24-hour, seven day a week access to information about supports available to people experiencing problems with gambling, drugs, alcohol or mental health. Helpful, supportive system navigation specialists answer all calls, emails or web chats.
The above link also allows you to search the online database.
This page contains links to 31 organizations the City of Toronto has collaborated with to help connect community members to free mental health supports – including many that provide culturally appropriate services to our City’s many diverse communities.
The Community Asset Portal (CAP) is a web application that shows an up-to-date map of social services such as shelters, community resource navigators, and mental health and youth support services.
TPS online article about the Community Asset Portal: “App Connects Community to Help”