$14 Million Available for Assertive Community Treatment Teams Serving People Who Don’t Respond Well to Traditional Services
Governor Kathy Hochul announced the availability of more than $14 million in annual funding for 14 new Assertive Community Treatment teams across the State. ACT is an innovative and highly effective community-based mental health program that serves individuals who have serious mental illness and have not been successfully engaged by the traditional mental health treatment and rehabilitation system.
“A top priority for my administration is improving the State’s healthcare system and ensuring that every New Yorker is able to receive the services they need,” Governor Hochul said. “The ACT teams we’re funding will help vulnerable individuals who are often difficult to reach and engage, and provide them with appropriate care and services. I am dedicated to helping every New Yorker get the care they deserve, while helping get people off the streets and into safer, healthier situations.”
Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Three of these new ACT teams will serve counties in New York State that have not previously received this level of care, which is an exciting development for us. The ACT program is one of the most effective programs in our system of care for individuals living with serious mental illness when our traditional system of care doesn’t meet their needs. It provides an alternative that has been shown to have success in helping individuals reach their recovery goals.”
A Request for Proposals to create the teams was issued by OMH and is available on the OMH website.
Additionally, $6.3 million in start-up funding is provided through the Federal Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (The American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2) or the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 1160-260). Providers are required to sign a federal certification indicating acknowledgement of the federal rules and regulations governing the use of these funds.
The regions to be served include the following, the boundaries will be determined by need:
- North Country: One 48 slot team covering Jefferson and Lewis Counties;
- Capital Region: One 48 slot team covering Rensselaer and lower Saratoga Counties;
- Long Island: One 68 slot team in Suffolk County;
- New York City: Two 68 slot teams in Brooklyn; Three 68 slot teams in Manhattan; Three 68 slot teams in The Bronx; and Two 68 slot teams in Queens;
- Finger Lakes and Southern Tier: One 48 slot team covering Livingston, Genesee, and Northern Steuben Counties
The 14 new ACT teams are expected to help an estimated 892 new clients in a variety of ways, including managing their symptoms, getting a job, securing and keeping housing, reducing their substance use, and maintaining their relationships with family and friends. ACT teams can assist with the development of a wide range of skills including grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, banking and other everyday living skills. The ACT program provides 24/7 treatment and support to its clients. Services are typically provided in the community, to help clients navigate real world struggles with newly acquired skills.
ACT is an evidence-based program that provides treatment, rehabilitation and support services to individuals who are diagnosed with a serious mental illness and whose needs have not been met by more traditional mental health services. Comprised of professionals from the fields of psychiatry, nursing, psychology, social work, substance abuse and vocational rehabilitation, there are currently 108 ACT teams in New York State.
ACT clients may be high users of emergency and/or crisis services, have co-occurring substance use disorders, and may find themselves isolated from community supports - including family. Clients may also be in danger of losing their housing, may already be homeless, and may have histories of involvement with the criminal justice system.
Studies have shown that ACT recipients experience greater reductions in psychiatric hospitalization rates and emergency room visits, in addition to 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 less expensive than inpatient care. Mental health advocacy groups, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, have endorsed ACT as a key service with proven positive outcomes.
Treatment plans are developed collaboratively by the ACT team and client based on the individual's strengths, needs, desires, goals and culture. Treatment plans are modified as needed through ongoing assessment and goal setting. ACT teams meet daily to discuss each client's progress, allowing the team to plan or quickly adjust the services to meet clients' needs.
The ACT teams will support Governor Hochul’s comprehensive plan to improve the health care system and deliver services to vulnerable New Yorkers living with mental illness. The Governor’s proposed budget includes an historic $577 million (17.2 percent) increase for critically important community mental health programs and services, as well as a $25 billion housing plan with a commitment to create and preserve 10,000 units of supportive housing over the next five years to prevent homelessness. Initiatives in the Governor’s budget include:
- $11.3 million investment for FY 2023 ($21 million when fully operational) to develop 20 new Safe Option Support teams comprised of mental health specialists to conduct direct one-on-one outreach with New Yorkers experiencing homelessness;
- Workforce investments through an historic 5.4% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for community mental health providers and retention bonuses up to $3,000, and;
- $35 million investment for FY 2023 that grows to $60 million in FY 2024 to prepare New York for the nationwide launch of 9-8-8, the suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline system, by providing for the expansion of call center capacity.
Proposals are due by 3:30 p.m. on April 13, 2022, and OMH expects to make the awards by May 18.
State Senator Samra Brouk said, “The pandemic has pressured a mental health care system already working beyond capacity, and this investment in Assertive Community Treatment teams will go a long way in helping us reach people underserved by the traditional system. I look forward to further investing in community mental health services in our State Budget so that we are better prepared to address the unmet needs of so many New York families.”
Assemblymember Aileen Gunther said, “As the Chair of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, I have worked tirelessly to increase access to mental health services in our communities. ACT teams have a proven track record of providing services to the people who need them most. I want to thank Governor Hochul for recognizing the serious needs of this community, and I am proud to support any expansion.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “To fully address the mental health needs of New Yorkers, we must transform our mental health system to meet all individuals where they are. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health and Governor Hochul’s investment in Assertive Community Treatment teams will continue the important work of getting the right mental health services and supports to all New Yorkers.”
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, “New York City needs critical investments in mental health care, especially for communities that have previously been underserved. Assertive Community Treatment teams are proven to be effective in the treatment of people with severe mental health challenges, helping them access stability and success. I thank Governor Hochul for her attention to mental health investments in New York City, and I look forward to continuing to partner with the State to advance public health and safety for all New Yorkers.”
New York City Councilmember Linda Lee said, “Our mental health crisis is exacerbated in part because many of our neighbors struggling with serious mental illness don't receive the full spectrum of care that can help them get back on their feet and on with their lives. Governor Hochul's increased funding for 14 new Assertive Community Treatment teams will help people in ways that traditional mental health services just can't. ACT is an innovative, evidence-driven, holistic solution to the problem facing so many New Yorkers and I applaud Governor Hochul for her leadership on this issue.”
Theodore T. Kusnierz, Jr., Town of Moreau Supervisor and Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman said, “Supporting mental health programs for those in need is critical to their overall wellbeing. Here in Saratoga County, we have made providing access to quality mental health care a priority, not only throughout the pandemic, but beyond. We support Governor Hochul’s commitment to improving the healthcare system in New York State and we welcome the creation of an ACT team in southern Saratoga County so the most vulnerable in our community will be able to have access to the unique care they need.”
Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler said, “We applaud the state’s investment in creative methods that address gaps in mental health services in our communities. Many individuals face barriers in accessing appropriate levels of care, especially as it relates to mental health, and Steuben County is grateful that additional funds will bolster our collective efforts to serve citizens in need.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, “Mental health continues to be just as important as physical health, especially as we continue to deal with the psychological stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will help benefit those who are struggling with mental illnesses and those who have not been successful when using traditional mental health and rehabilitation systems.”
Livingston County Chairman David L. LeFeber said, "Funding such as this is crucial for our area. Access to transportation is a concern for many. In addition, this model aims to respond to the clients who will not traditionally engage in a typical healthcare setting, and they need services as much as anyone else. This funding will allow for equity of services across the spectrum of mental health programming."
Rochelle M Stein, Chair, Genesee County Legislature, said, “The Genesee County Legislature and Local Governing Unit looks forward to partnering with our neighboring Counties for the development of ACT Services. This is a wonderful opportunity to serve our residents who struggle with serious mental health concerns so they can flourish in our community. One additional and significant benefit for ACT Team providers is to collaborate on a local level with the Mental Health Department and the Director of Community Services to assist with engagement of the most vulnerable and hard to reach community members.”
Larry Dolhof, Chairman of the Lewis County Legislature said, “This is more great news from Governor Hochul and another initiative that will strengthen our behavioral healthcare system. ACT teams help people get the treatment they need right in their community, and avoid costly emergency room visits and crisis services. We welcome and greatly appreciate this investment in Lewis County’s healthcare.”
Jefferson County Chairman William Johnson said, “ACT teams work closely with people living with mental illness and help them to receive the services they need to live independently, safely and securely in their own community. It is a proven effective program that will help some of the most vulnerable people in Jefferson County. I thank Governor Hochul for making these funds available.”