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ACT team provides around-the-clock mental health services

Editor's note: In conjunction with Mental Health Month in May, Assertive Community Treatment in Alexandria provided the following information.

What is ACT?

According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), "Assertive Community Treatment" is a service delivery model for providing comprehensive community-based treatment to persons with severe and persistent mental illness.

This model was first conceptualized in the late 1960s. It was hypothesized that the around-the-clock care that was helping inpatients lessen their mental illness symptoms while in the hospital was just as important out of the hospital.

They first tested this assumption in 1972 and found it to be successful in managing symptoms and limiting hospitalizations. Since then a number of programs have been developed throughout the nation that replicated the original program.

Because of their success and the fact that research has been able to replicate this success, ACT has been deemed to be an evidence-based practice.

In 1995, the Minnesota Legislature passed legislation that began a systemic change in the delivery of mental health services across the state. Regional adult mental health initiatives have been established across the state.

Most regional treatment centers (state mental hospitals) in the state have been closed and have been replaced by 16 bed state-operated community behavioral health hospitals.

Counties now assure residents have access to Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS). Most areas also now provide Assertive Community Treatment (ACT).

Region IV South Adult Mental Health Initiative had its beginnings in 1996. This initiative is comprised of Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse counties.

In 2005, the initiative established an ACT board to develop and hire ACT personnel.

The ACT team is comprised of a full time team leader, a part time psychiatrist; two half time mental health professionals, an RN, four service coordinators, one specializing in substance abuse and one specializing in vocational, and a full time program assistant.

The team's first consumer was admitted on July 20, 2005.

Region IV South Adult Mental health Initiative Assertive Community Treatment team is staffed to provide 24/7 services to up to 50 individuals with mental illness in the initiative's five county geographical areas. Currently the team services 38 consumers from all five counties.

Operating as a continuous treatment service, the ACT team has the capability to provide comprehensive treatment, rehabilitation, and support services as a self-contained service unit. Services provided include:

• Service coordination. Each client is assigned a service coordinator case manager, who coordinates and monitors the activities of the client's individual treatment plan.

• Crisis assessment and intervention. The ACT team provides emergency service on a 24/7 basis.

• Symptom assessment and management. The ACT team monitors all symptoms and when needed provides supervision, education, and client support in the administration of psychiatric medications to 100 percent of ACT clients.

• Medication prescription, administration, monitoring and documentation. The ACT team psychiatrist provides specific services relative to each individual client's needs regarding their mental illness symptoms, assessment, medications, and provides psychotherapy.

• Dual diagnosis substance abuse service. The ACT team will provide a stage based treatment model that is non-confrontational, considers interactions of mental illness and substance abuse, and has client determined goals.

• Work-related services. These services help clients value, find and maintain employment in community-based job sites.

• Activities of daily living. These services help support activities of daily living in community-based settings including individual assessment problem solving, side-by-side assistance and support, skill training, ongoing supervision and environmental adaptations.

• Social/interpersonal relationship and leisure-time skill training.

• Support services. These services will help ensure that the clients have obtained the basic necessities for daily life.

• Education, support and consultation to clients' families and other major supports - with the consent of the client. In addition, family education is provided upon request.

• Coordination of services. The ACT team supports, facilitates and ensures clients have access to other necessary community-based services.

The ACT team central office is located at 1103 Broadway, Suite 101 in Alexandria.