Steve Coleman, assistant director, ACT program

Each Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team provides a coordinated approach for 105 individuals with severe and persistent mental illness who have not responded well to traditional office-based services.

Connections currently operates five ACT teams in New Castle County an one in Kent County, serving approximately 630 individuals. Our ACT teams operate under contracts with the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH).

First adopted by Connections in 1988 as part of the nationwide effort to move individuals suffering from mental illness out of institutions, ACT is a mode of care that promotes self-determination and independence so that  participants can achieve maximum recovery and successfully live, work, learn, exercise and socialize in their communities.

ACT teams provide in-home comprehensive services to clients including psychiatric and medical care, substance abuse treatment, 24-7 crisis management, daily living assistance and help to obtain and keep housing and employment. Almost all of our care is provided away from our offices. Treatment for each client is time-unlimited, with the intensity adjusted continuously based on the person’s preferences and needs.

Key outcomes for people who are served by an ACT team include decreased  rates of hospitalization, incarceration and homelessness  and increased rates of employment and stable housing.

Our teams are composed of psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, nurses, master level clinicians,  substance abuse counselors, employment and peer specialists, case managers and support staff with substantial experience in community-based care. The ACT teams employ an interdisciplinary approach in which each member shares responsibility for the client’s progress.

While the ultimate goal is to facilitate each person’s development of a natural support network, a team approach provides an immediate social network for the otherwise socially isolated person early in the treatment process. In addition, each client helps design a wellness plan for their own recovery – one that integrates evidence-based practices focusing on themselves and their specific strengths.

Beyond our success in Delaware, since 1999 Connections has been part of a coalition of consultants who provide assistance to organizations across the United States who are establishing ACT teams. In this capacity, for more than a decade several senior staff members have provided guidance to teams in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina.