Mental Health Administrator for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), Division of Parole and Community Services

Author:Katherine A. Brown
Position:Assertive Community Treatment: A Reentry Model For Seriously Mentally Ill Offenders

I. What Is Assertive Community Treatment? II. Key Features Of Act III. But Does It Work? IV. Pilot Projects V. Concluding Thoughts


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Republished with permission.

Mental Health Administrator for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), Division of Parole and Community Services.

This is the tenth article in a series about effectively dealing with mentally ill offenders in the criminal justice system. This article highlights two pilot projects using Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) as a new approach to transitioning prison offenders with a serious mental illness back to the community at the conclusion of their incarceration. ODRC, the Hamilton County Mental Health Board, and the Cuyahoga County Mental Health Board are collaborating on this innovating reentry model that may impact judicial decisions on early-release.

I What Is Assertive Community Treatment?

Almost 10 (9.5) percent of the Ohio prison population has a serious mental illness. When offenders complete their sentence and are released, they are often unable to link up with services and find themselves reincarcerated, caught up in a vicious cycle. The ACT Model is a plan for comprehensive community-based mental health treatment. The original concept for ACT began in Wisconsin about 23 years ago. Psychiatrist Len Stein and Psychologist Mary Ann Test believed that psychiatric hospital staff should treat patients who had received long term and intensive inpatient services in a community setting. They called the plan The Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). The ACT model, with minor staffing modifications, is called Assertive Community Treatment (ACT).

In the community, ACT provides services with a full clinical mental health staff including a psychiatrist, nurses, substance abuse specialists, and case managers. The team encourages consumers to stay involved in their treatment and assertively works in homes, neighborhoods, and places of employment as needed to provide services and promote recovery. Similar to a hospital unit, staff holds daily team meetings and provides services throughout the day and evening seven days per week.

ACT is for persons with severe illnesses who have frequent relapses and hospitalizations and/or find it difficult to maintain recovery treatment activities. Family members are involved directly and early on. The Page 1058 multidisciplinary team seeks family suggestions about how to help the consumer...

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