Following their time spent receiving mental health or addiction treatment, a number of people desire to return the favor to their community. Some individuals volunteer or become employed at their treatment center itself, others become peer leaders for support groups and others seek involvement in the field by becoming social workers, counselors and mental health advocates. 

Another such way is through joining an assertive community treatment team (ACTT) to help provide unique mental health care to individuals needing it most. 

What is assertive community treatment? 

Assertive community treatment is a mental health treatment service where teams of professionally trained individuals provide mental and physical health care to those who cannot access treatment in traditional settings. 

ACTT helps reach people who: 

  • May face frequent hospitalization for a mental illness
  • Suffer from extreme mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorders, show severe symptoms or experience psychiatric crises
  • Have not responded well to inpatient treatment and/or are not likely to show up to scheduled treatment appointments
  • 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
  • Cannot financially afford traditional treatment options
  • Cannot manage medications properly on their own
  • Have experienced intense trauma

Many of these individuals are those who would benefit from mental health treatment the most, and yet are not often able to receive it. This is where the benefits of an ACTT shine, by providing services outside of the typical treatment facility—either in a local place in the community or in the home of the clients themselves. These individuals can receive the treatment they need in an environment that is comfortable, supportive and effective. 

Who is part of an assertive community treatment team? 

An ACTT is comprised of people with a passion for helping others and a dedication to teaching their clients to regain lives of freedom, peace and hope. While some of the roles on the team require in-depth, specialized schooling, other positions do not require such a high level of education and are therefore perfect for those wishing to become involved who do not have the option of returning to school. 

The different roles on an ACTT include: 

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

All team members play a vital role in the care and recovery of clients seeking the services of assertive community treatment. 

How can I get involved? 

Assertive community treatment teams give you the unique opportunity to work outside of a traditional clinical setting and instead provide treatment in local community areas or the homes of the clients themselves.

For those trained in mental health counseling, nursing or therapy of some form, ACTT can offer a different, interesting and unique work environment for anyone seeking a challenge or change of pace. 

If, however, you do not have the credentials of a trained nurse or therapist, consider the role of a peer support specialist

Becoming a peer support specialist 

Peer support specialists are the uniquely beautiful players of the ACT team who actually share the experience of mental health and/or addiction of the client, meaning a peer (in this case) is someone who has battled and recovered from a mental illness themselves

A key aspect of recovery is knowing you are not alone and feeling supported and understood throughout the journey. Peer support specialists often have gone through the recovery journey themselves, therefore, they can offer a completely unique support to those in active recovery. Peer support specialists are able to provide a sense of relation and trust because they, too, have lived through the trials of addiction. 

Becoming a peer support specialist does vary from state to state as the requirements for certification and training may be different depending on where you live. Typically, however, a certification process/education is required in order to receive the proper training and skills necessary to work on an ACTT and around clients in recovery. 

Finding an assertive community treatment team 

A little bit of research may be required to find an ACTT in your area, and the best way to start is by looking at accredited and reputable treatment facilities near you to see if they offer ACTT programs. From there, you can contact the facility, visit their career page or explore the website to see what opportunities they offer to get involved. 

For more information on assertive community treatment teams, including how to get involved, visit October Road. Whether you’re seeking a career as a member of an ACTT or want to learn more about the benefits of ACTT services, we look forward to hearing from you. Visit our website or call anytime.

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