Prince William County Community Services has offered an Intensive Community Treatment, or ICT, program for the seriously mentally ill since 2008. The program is currently funded to help and treat 48 people. Another 26 are on the waiting list for services.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently voted to accept $850,000 from the Virginia Department of Health and Developmental Services to expand coverage for the mentally ill under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to its website, the administration “leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.”
The additional money will allow Community Services to establish a Program of Assertive Community Treatment, or PACT, team to expand coverage by hiring a full-time program manager, a full-time nurse, a full-time behavioral health licensed practical nurse, three full-time therapists and one full-time psychiatrist. The additional staff will now allow Community Services to help 80 to100 people.
The PACT Team approach is aimed at treating people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoid-effective disorders – life-altering, chronic illnesses that never go away, said Alan Wooten, the County’s Executive Director of Community Services. “It’s a national evidence-based treatment model that serves people with the most serious of mental illness in their community by providing outreach in an integrated team approach that consists of psychiatry, therapy, nursing, as well as peer support specialists.”
The state gave the ongoing funding to Prince William County Community Services based on the effectiveness of its ICT program, which follows federal treatment guidelines to help keep the mentally ill well and functioning in the community, Wooten said. “They recognized us because our outcomes have been so good, and we’ve served people very successfully.”
In addition to helping families and caregivers, the team approach can help allay emergency care for the mentally ill. “It helps our public safety personnel because they’re often called to go out and respond and must bring people through the emergency system, which can overload the hospitals and acute care centers,” Wooten said. “I think it just helps the county overall because oftentimes folks with serious mental illness are at greater risk of harm if they become unstable or not well.”
Wooten said the state also gave the funding to Prince William County because of a need in the community. A population of roughly 427,100 makes Prince William County the second most populated county in the state. “Just by having this many people you have a great need.”
More information about Community Services and the programs they offer is available at www.pwcgov.org/cs.