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By Wendy Gabrek
Residents of south Simcoe living with serious mental illness and addictions issues have access to a new, recovery-based, multi-disciplinary service that can improve their quality of life.
On Wednesday April 18, the announcement was made at CMHA in Alliston (Towns Square) and now, for the first time, an Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT) is available to support 60 individuals in South Simcoe, including Bradford/West Gwillimbury, Tottenham, Alliston and Beeton – to learn recovery techniques to regain their health and wellness.
The event was emceed by Monica Gaudry, Board Chair of CMHA York and South Simcoe.
“Today we're officially launching a new and exciting recovery-based service to the South Simcoe community,” said Gaudry, “one that brings together critical multi-disciplinary services from both our local hospital and community mental health association while putting clients and their families at the centre of their care.”
“CMHA has been in this community for 12 years now which started with a small and passionate team,” added Gaudry. “With the addition of the ACTT service, CMHA is showing that we are dedicated to better serving the community. A special thank you goes out to the Central LHIN for their leadership in addressing the need and providing the funds to make this service possible.”
Gaudry went on to introduce three additional speakers – CEO of CMHA York and South Simcoe Rebecca Shields, Paul Cappuccio, Mental Health Program Director Southlake Regional health Centre, and Sheba Jackson, SMHA client.
“Southlake is an amazing partner to ensure we have a continuity of care and the right care at the right time,” said Shields. “Gratitude to the community for advocating for this program, and to the clients and families for the trust they put in us for their health care.”
“There is no similar ACTT program like this in Canada,” said Cappuccio. “This program is very unique and we are very excited. This is where we see mental health services going into the future.”
Sheba Jackson, a CHMA client, supported on this day by her mother Sheila, shared her story of overcoming mental illness (schizophrenia) and moving on with her life – completing a GED and attending post secondary school to become a Community Service Worker. She plans to “pay forward” all the kindness that has been shown to her.
“I used to go to the hospital all the time, but not since the ACTT team stepped in,” said Jackson. “The ACTT team and my family are my cure.”
ACTT is a client-centred, recovery-oriented mental health service which offers a broad range of intensive community supports to individuals and their families experiencing serious mental health and addictions concerns. Services include intensive rehabilitation and support to increase independence in the community. ACTT is recognized as an effective option for individuals living with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other severe psychiatric conditions.
The team includes psychiatrists, nurses, patient case managers, employment specialists, social workers, peer support workers and addiction specialists.
ACT teams work with clients to:
By putting clients and their families at the centre of their care, ACTT can, for example, provide an individual with psychiatric assessment, treatment and medication monitoring. ACTT provides appropriate and needed therapy while helping individuals access community services or carry out day-to-day activities.
Support is provided as frequently as needed to ensure clients are fully supported. ACTT is flexible and will deliver care virtually anywhere a client feels comfortable – their home, a coffee shop or local park.
“Being able to get help from ACTT has changed my life in the best way possible,” said Jackson, a client of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) York and South Simcoe. They support me with my recovery and my goals and I see the world differently and more optimistically now.”
The new ACTT service is a collaboration between Southlake Regional Health Centre and CMHA York and South Simcoe, with funding from the Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).
While both CMHA and Southlake offer independent ACTT services, this may be the first time in Ontario that a hospital and community agency are partnering to provide ACTT resources together.
“For people living with severe mental illness, visits or admissions to hospitals requires close follow-up to maintain stable condition and monitoring response to treatment,” said Southlake Chief of Psychiatry Dr. Mahdi Memarpour. “By assuring the continuity of care, through ACTT, fewer people in south Simcoe will need to revisit the hospital. The ready access to support in the community makes it easier for patients to get help in their own community in a timely fashion.”
It's expected this new ACTT service will reduce hospital visits for those living with a severe mental illness. That's been the case for CMHA, which currently serves 120 ACTT clients in York Region. All were hospitalized before receiving ACTT services. After receiving support, hospitalization rates dropped dramatically and 73 per cent of clients no longer are hospitalized.
“Too often individuals who go without the necessary support end up in crisis and in hospital,” said Rebecca Shields, Chief Executive Officer, CMHA York and South Simcoe. “By partnering with Southlake, we're able to use our collective resources to support vulnerable individuals in their recovery.”
“Helping people who are experiencing mental health and addictions challenges to recover and stay well is a key priority for the Central LHIN,” said Kim Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Central LHIN. “We worked closely with our partners to support the delivery of ACTT services and have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of those who use our local health care system.”
For more information about the Assertive Community Treatment Team service, call CMHA York and South Simcoe at 1-866-345-0183, ext. 6220. Referrals can be made by family members, hospitals, psychiatrists, physicians and community agencies.
To help fund mental illness and addictions as the same physical health care, sign the petition at erasethedifference.ca
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