26 September 2023

PACER steps up for mental health

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A successful trial of the ACT’s Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response program (PACER) has led to the service being expanded to seven days a week.

Announced by the Ministers for Mental Health, Shane Rattenbury and for Policing and Emergency Services, Mick Gentleman, the PACER program minimises both avoidable hospital presentations and contact with the justice system for people with mental health conditions.

In a joint statement, the Ministers said the program was an integrated service model in which police officers, paramedics and mental health clinicians worked together to support the safe in-situ intervention, assessment and treatment of people experiencing acute mental health episodes.

“We know that providing Canberrans in need with timely mental health support, in their homes and their communities, with follow-up support and treatment, can make all the difference,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Keeping an individual in mental health crisis out of emergency departments ensures we’re supporting more Canberrans sooner in their mental health recovery,” he said.

Mr Rattenbury and Mr Gentleman said paramedics and police officers were often first responders to mental health crisis situations.

“Through this model, Canberrans can access mental health support while our mental health professionals are supported by the paramedics and police,” they said.

“Since the program began, there has been a decrease in emergency apprehensions and the number of people transported to the emergency department for assessment due to mental health concern or crisis.”

They said that in the first four months of operation, PACER had supported about 300 Canberrans in need.

The Ministers said over 80 per cent of people treated were able to remain safely in the community rather than requiring transport to hospital emergency departments for further assessment.

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