The Estevan Police Service has implemented a new program that will help people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Police and Crisis Team, or PACT program, was officially announced on Friday by the EPS, in conjunction with the province and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

The program was first introduced in 2014 in Saskatoon. It has since explanded to Regina, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, North Battleford, and Prince Albert, and is now underway in Estevan.

"The PACT program has been instrumental in the evolution of how police respond to people undergoing a mental health crisis in the community," Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell said. "It is a unique and effective way of handling police calls, directing clients to the right services and ensuring public safety."

 In 2021, the province said PACT teams across Saskatchewan were involved in 2,301 case files with over 1,000 people requiring a crisis intervention.

In total, $350,000 has been invested to bring the program to Estevan. The program pairs a mental health professional with a police officer to create a team that is mobile and can help stabilize people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

"The Estevan Police Service is excited to team up with the SHA on the PACT initiative," Estevan Police Chief Rich Lowen said. "PACT is already responding to calls for service and has been instrumental in helping those in crisis - a welcome addition to supporting the needs of our community. We thank the government for their support and look forward to a long and growing partnership in PACT."

The province said another goal of PACT is to provide the right kind of care for individuals - particularly those facing a mental health emergency - and to keep them in the community, rather than in the criminal justice system or emergency room.