CAMH report shows police support, handcuffing during mental health-related transfers is widespread in ON

June 23, 2022
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has released the results of a study examining the use of handcuffs during mental health-related student transfers from Ontario university health clinics to hospitals. The study included interviews with physicians from nine university health clinics and found variation across the policies and processes used to transfer students to hospital. Five clinics always called police to assist with a transfer, which, at some clinics, included handcuffing students during transfers for “pragmatic” and “extramedical” factors. Other universities had systems that included having health clinic staff or nonclinical support workers accompany students to the hospital. Researchers found that clinics relied on police due to factors such as a lack of resources and staffing, existing policies, liability concerns, and/or hospital wait times. Physicians interviewed expressed concerns about the use of police and handcuffing, noting that it can traumatize students and deter them from seeking help in the future. CAMH | CMAJ Open (Research) | Toronto Star (Study)