A Closer Look at Assertive Community Treatment

April 11, 2022

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Your mental health is what helps you find motivation, drive and perseverance throughout the day; it allows you to understand and process the world around you; it gives way to action,  reaction and emotion. It determines much of your quality of life. 

In order to care for their mental health, many people choose to meet with counselors or therapists, attend support groups or even enroll in mental health treatment facilities. But not everyone has access to these services. What about the people who desire treatment, but cannot, for some reason or other, receive treatment in traditional settings? 

The answer is assertive community treatment. 

What is Assertive Community Treatment? 

Assertive community treatment (ACT) is a mental health treatment service where teams of professionally trained individuals provide services to those who cannot access treatment in traditional settings. These include people who: 

  • Are frequently hospitalized for a mental illness
  • Suffer from an extreme mental illness, such as schizophrenia
  • Show severe symptoms or experience psychiatric crisis
  • Struggle financially and cannot afford traditional treatment
  • Have not responded well to inpatient treatment
  • Are not likely to keep appointments at hospitals or treatment facilities
  • Struggle with their medication
  • Live with a medical condition that worsens the mental illness or addiction
  • Are in the criminal justice system or are at high risk of being incarcerated
  • Find themselves homeless as a result of mental illness
  • Have intense trauma in their past

In order to benefit these individuals, ACT teams go out into the community to provide treatment and care, meaning the clients they serve can receive attention and aid when and how they need it most. 

Who is on an ACT team? 

Because the goal of assertive community treatment is to help clients begin or continue recovery in a setting that benefits them the most, the team is made up of professionally trained and licensed people with all sorts of medical backgrounds, skills and qualifications, including: 

  • Psychiatrists
  • Physician assistants
  • Nursing staff
  • Licensed team leaders
  • Substance use clinician(s)
  • Licensed therapists
  • Vocational and housing specialists
  • Additional case managers

With such a well-rounded team, clients will receive the best care in the way they need it most. 

Specific characteristics of ACT 

The assertive community treatment model seeks to help struggling individuals find effective, holistic mental health treatment that allows them to enter back into their communities. This may mean finding a new job, re-enrolling in school or simply coming to a balanced state of mental health that allows them to succeed in routine daily tasks. 

In addition, there are many other features of ACT that make it a successful model. These include: 

  • Providing vocational services to increase job and life skills for greater post-treatment success
  • Crafting individualized, holistic treatment plans to meet the individual’s needs and provide a greater overall chance at lasting, sustainable recovery
  • A presence in the community which allows clients to receive treatment in local spaces, like a park, library or even in their own homes, if needed
  • A focus on helping individuals reintegrate into their community so they feel more comfortable and relaxed in their environment
  • Providing additional support to affected family members so they can, in turn, help their loved one
  • Offering psychoeducation so that both the family and the individual can have a better understanding of the mental disorder/addiction

ACT’s greatest characteristic is the chance at recovery for those who otherwise wouldn’t have received the care they needed, been hospitalized without the proper holistic focus or incarcerated. With ACT, however, these people are slowly able to work their way back to health through intense support, medical care and mental health treatment offered right in their community. 

Do I need assertive community treatment? 

Perhaps you’re seeking assertive community treatment for yourself, since other treatment options haven’t been successful for you. Maybe you’re researching treatment models for a loved one who frequents the hospital, but truly needs mental health treatment. If the qualities of ACT seem like they’d fit your lifestyle or situation, consider contacting October Road. 

With a number of assertive community treatment teams in NC, October Road offers clinical mental health services to a vast number of communities and individuals. To learn more about a team near you, or to gather more information about the ACT model and see if it’s the right mental health treatment plan for you, contact our offices anytime at 888-201-5086