When a person with a severe mental illness does not respond to traditional outpatient therapy, other approaches may be necessary in order to provide the best care. There are a variety of treatment options available to Dual Diagnosis patients but sometimes an individual needs all-around care that focuses on more than the illness and addiction.
Assertive community treatment (ACT) does just that but takes therapy a step farther than integrated treatment. Combining the interdisciplinary fields that deal with mental illness and substance abuse, ACT helps a person outside the hospital or rehabilitation center. This approach can be ideal for those with severe mental illness and addiction, or for those who have not typically responded well to outpatient therapy.
Learning More About ACT
Assertive community treatment offers the individual highly specialized and personal care every day of the year. Professionals who have a background in social work, nursing, psychiatry, substance abuse treatment, and case management are available 24/7 for the patient to help in all areas of life. Treatment occurs inside the person’s home or community, offering an unprecedented comfort that many mentally ill individuals do not get in traditional inpatient therapy. The idea is to provide comprehensive treatment for the maximum level of effectiveness.
The goal for ACT is to eliminate or reduce the symptoms of severe mental illness and to enhance the individual’s quality of life. In effect, by teaching coping and life skills while working in tandem with the mental illness, ACT, when effectively executed, can reduce hospital stays and jail time for individuals as well. Studies have shown that there have been significant drops in the length of hospital stays and jail time for those states that have implemented ACT programs.
What Are the Principles of ACT?
Aside from providing the least invasive and most well-rounded treatment for the individual, the Assertive Community Treatment Association (ACTA) designed specialized tenants for this type of therapy.
- Primary provider of services. ACT specialists are highly trained and well-versed in all areas of treatment including substance abuse, mental health, and vocational skills. Their small 1:10 ratio of professionals to patients ensures that persons receiving care get the most attentive treatment possible.
- Out-of-office treatment. Treatment occurs in the individual’s home or a local community setting, like a park or library.
- Individualized treatment. Each person is unique in their illness and/or addiction. ACT recognizes this and tailors treatment to each case.
- Long-term services. A person seeking treatment can do so anytime as staff members are available and understand that recovery is a lifelong commitment.
- Vocational expectations. Staff qualified in teaching vocational and life skills help a patient with job placement and employment opportunities.
- Psychoeducational services. Clients are taught about their illness and together with the provider work on ways to cope with the difficulties of severe mental disorders.
- Family support. Families are often impacted in ways we do not recognize. Providers educate families on the illness and offer support services to make dealing with it a little easier.
- Community integration. Because many comorbid patients are socially isolated or have trouble communicating, ACT professionals work with the individual on society integration to make them feel more comfortable in the community.
If you are suffering from a mental illness, or if you have a family member or friend with a severe mental disorder, assertive community treatment may be a good option. Because it is highly adaptable to existing mental health services, ACT may be an ideal choice for your health care needs.
Foundations Recovery Network has a system of rehabilitation and treatment facilities that are focused on your overall health and recovery. Call us today to learn more about the programs we provide.
Further Reading About What Is Assertive Community Treatment?
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton