The Terry Project #57: Policing a Mental Health Crisis

In 2012, the VPD spent 21,000 hours apprehending 3,000 people under the Mental Health Act. Nobody likes this arrangement–not the police, not the mayor. In 2013, the City of Vancouver declared a mental health emergency. But for all the calls of better mental health services, the mentally ill still find themselves reaching the police before they reach a psychiatrist. So, how do the police treat them?


Part 1

It seems like the mentally ill are more likely to be met by the police than by a trained mental health professional. And sometimes, the police shoot them. Why? In part one, we speak to Rick Parent, police-officer-turned-criminalogist.

Part 2

How are mentally ill people treated by the police? 3/4ths of them are handcuffed. 1/4th of them are injured. 1/3rd believe that are treated with excessive force. Yet, they have surprisingly positive views. We talk to Jamie Livingston about his study on the relationship between the mentally ill and the people who police them.

Part 3

Mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence. Yet, we still let the idea of the ‘crazed’ gunman colour our perception of people with mental illness. That’s just one the stereotypes that playwright Victoria Maxwell is trying to combat. Her play “That’s Just Crazy Talk” counters stigma. And we have research to prove it.



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Gordon Katic (@gordonkatic) has been student coordinator for the Terry Project for over two years, and in that time started BARtalk, and the Terry Project on CiTR 101.9FM. A former Ubyssey columnist, and now a student at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, Gordon is trying to use journalism to tell important stories about global issues.