Helping People with Mental Illness Live in the Community
New Online Resource Helps You Get Started
If good supports are available, people with serious mental illnesses often can be treated effectively in their homes, rather than requiring expensive and disruptive hospitalizations.
Assertive Community Treatment, or ACT, helps consumers of mental health services receive the supports they need to live successfully in the community.
An ACT team, which includes psychiatrists, nurses, mental health and substance abuse professionals, and employment specialists, works to provide services that are available 24/7 for as long as consumers need them, wherever they need them.
To help communities build and sustain an ACT team, SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services recently released an Evidence-Based Practices Implementation Resource Kit on Assertive Community Treatment. The kit, part the Knowledge Informing Transformation (KIT) series, is available free of charge on the Web and on CD-ROM.
“This KIT provides all of the tools states and communities need to set up services to help consumers with serious mental illnesses stay out of the hospital and live productive lives in their community,” said Crystal R. Blyler, Ph.D., social science analyst at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services.
The KIT materials help mental health caregivers provide a broad range of proven mental health services in a wide variety of community settings.
ACT is a way of delivering a full range of services to consumers whose needs have not been well met by traditional service delivery approaches. One of its goals is to help consumers develop skills for living in the community.
ACT is not a case management program—it’s a service delivery model. Meant for consumers with the most challenging and persistent problems, the primary goal is to help them achieve recovery through community treatment and habilitation.
Central to the ACT model is a transdisciplinary group of 10 to 12 people who provide services to about 100 people.
ACT teams get right to the basics, helping consumers manage their medications, find housing, apply for jobs, or enroll in school. The care is:
- Flexible—ACT teams fit their schedules around consumer needs.
- Personalized—The teams work with relatively small numbers of people.
- Continuous—Several team members work regularly with each consumer.
- Comprehensive—ACT teams provide an array of services to help meet consumer needs.
With ACT, consumers benefit most because they are hospitalized less often and have more stable housing.
While these services are essential, they also require the devotion of a host of individuals. SAMHSA’s ACT KIT provides information that can help mental health providers develop community-based services that are better suited to the individual needs of clients.
The KIT contains seven sections:
- How To Use the Evidence-Based Practices KITs provides program leaders with background information about the KIT series and why using evidence-based practices is beneficial to people needing mental health treatment.
- Getting Started with Evidence-Based Practices covers common initial tasks, such as consensus-building, assessment of training needs, and cultural competency training.
- Building Your Program explains the ACT model in detail, includes detailed instructions about setting up your program effectively, and provides tips and answers to frequently asked questions for mental health authorities.
- Training Frontline Staff is a workbook especially for evidence-based practices practitioners and provides specific training exercises and instruction.
- Evaluating Your Program provides general information about developing a quality assurance system and for integrating evidence-based practices processes and outcome measures.
- The Evidence includes references and citations for the information in the toolkit.
- Using Multimedia To Introduce Your Evidence-Based Practices provides a brochure, in English and en español, to promote your ACT program, and a PowerPoint presentation, which explains what ACT entails.
You can also order the CD-ROM (product number SMA08-4345) online on the SAMHSA Web site or by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727)..