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ALTON - Centerstone’s Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program is one of the most intensive services you can receive outside of a hospital or group home.

Centerstone has a wide variety of programs that can help people who are struggling with mental illness or substance use. The ACT program assists adults who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, another mental illness with psychotic features or bipolar disorder. Through the program, they can receive the help needed to live independently.

“As a whole team, the ACT team provides a lot of different services. We meet people where they’re at in the community,” explained Christina Boyer, project director. “Assertive community treatment is an evidence-based practice and it involves a group of team members that include a psychiatrist, a nurse, a co-occurring substance use specialist, a counselor or therapist, a peer support specialist or wellness coach and then a couple of different case managers who help work with supportive employment, housing, daily living skills, managing finances and things like that.”

To be eligible for the program, clients must have significant functional impairment due to their mental illness. The program also strives to work with people who have frequent hospitalizations, unstable housing or involvement with the criminal justice system.

The multidisciplinary ACT team helps patients “take care of their basic needs — taking medications, getting up and getting through the day.” The team will meet clients where they’re at in the community.

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They can help clients take medications, manage their finances, apply for jobs, advocate for themselves at medical appointments, clean their homes and much more. They meet with clients three times a week at a minimum and multiple times a day at a maximum.

“We really dig into their lives,” Boyer said. “We’re involved in all aspects that they need help with or they’ll allow us to be, so it really takes some building trust between the team members and the people that we serve.”

Boyer noted that the ACT team has a small caseload, and they meet every day to discuss how each client is doing. After their grant ends, Boyer is hopeful that the ACT team will remain a self-sustaining program through Centerstone. They will serve individuals for as long as the individual allows them to help.

Boyer also underlined the importance of collaborating with natural supports in the community, from loved ones to police officers. The ACT team will try to help clients develop these relationships so they have the support they need to be healthy, happy and safe. The team also takes referrals from hospitals and probation officers, so they often work with these organizations.

“It really gives us an opportunity to collaborate and better serve the individuals,” she said. “That’s something we hope to build more on in the coming years as we’re working through this grant, really engaging those natural supports and getting the client support outside of the agency and with people that can help them, because a lot of individuals that we serve, they just don’t have those relationships or supports too often.”

If you think you or a loved one might be a good fit for the ACT program, call the main Centerstone line at 1-877-HOPE123 to find out more and be assessed. You can also go to the official ACT program webpage or visit RecoverWithUs.org for more details on Centerstone’s services.

“The goal is to continue building the program,” Boyer added. “We’re serving people sometimes who are at the lowest point in their lives, and we’re asking them to be open and trust us. I think it helps to have that connection with those people.”

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.

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