What community services are available for someone with severe mental illness?

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is a program that provides services to individuals in the community who have severe and persistent mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. People who receive ACT services have difficulties living independently in the community, are frequently hospitalized, have difficulties successfully participating in other community-based mental health services and have other complex needs such as substance use issues, physical health needs, homelessness or involvement in the criminal justice system. Consumers of ACT services may have a poor response to stress, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, difficulties learning and issues with basic life skills.

ACT Services

Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with multiple community visits per week and crisis services. Community visits are provided in the client or family home or other place of their choice. ACT utilizes a team approach consisting of mental health professionals who provide treatment, support and rehabilitation for clients. This includes psychiatric providers, team leaders, administrative assistants, social workers/counselors, employment specialists, peer specialists and substance use specialists. The client is seen as a part of the team as they play an active role in their recovery and treatment. Family involvement is included with the aim to allow families to be family and have the ACT team manage care. ACT has no limit on how long clients receive services and teams are responsible for all client care needs. Areas of assistance include physical and mental health care, medications, substance use, activities of daily living, housing, family life, employment, benefits and managing finances. The goal of services is to help clients maintain a life of their choosing in their community of choice.

Benefits of ACT

ACT engages clients in their recovery, helps them to reach their goals and assists them in living in a community of their choosing. Outcomes of ACT treatment include increased mental health stability, less time spent in the hospital, reduced hospital costs, increased medication adherence, reduced severity of symptoms, increased housing stability and overall improvement in quality of life.

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