Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is an Evidence-Based Practice Model designed to provide treatment, rehabilitation and support services to individuals who are diagnosed with a severe mental illness and whose needs have not been well met by more traditional mental health services. The ACT team provides services directly to an individual that are tailored to meet his or her specific needs. ACT teams are multi-disciplinary and include members from the fields of psychiatry, nursing, psychology, social work, substance abuse and vocational rehabilitation. Based on their respective areas of expertise, the team members collaborate to deliver integrated services of the recipients' choice, assist in making progress towards goals, and adjust services over time to meet recipients' changing needs and goals. The staff-to-recipient ratio is small (one clinician for every ten recipients), and services are provided 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as they are needed.
ACT teams deliver comprehensive and flexible treatment, support, and rehabilitation services to individuals in their natural living settings rather than in hospital or clinic settings. This means that interventions and skills teaching are carried out at the locations where individuals live, work, and socialize and where support is needed. ACT teams share responsibility for the people they serve and use assertive engagement to proactively engage individuals in treatment.
Why Is Assertive Community Treatment Important?
ACT improves recipient outcomes. When comparing recipients before and after receiving ACT services, studies have shown ACT recipients experience greater reductions in psychiatric hospitalization rates, emergency room visits and higher levels of housing stability after receiving ACT services. Research has also shown that ACT is more satisfactory to recipients and their families and is no more expensive than other types of community-based care (Phillips et al., 2001). Evidence of ACT's effectiveness has led mental health advocacy groups, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to endorse ACT as a key service with proven positive outcomes.