Mississippi Expands Program of Assertive Community Treatment Teams

In an effort to continue to expand community-based services, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) is under way with the development of four additional Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) Teams. 

The new teams will be operating in Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region, the Hattiesburg region, DeSoto County and to the Jackson Metro area. Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources will operate the teams in the Hattiesburg and coastal counties, Timber Hills Mental Health Services will operate the team in DeSoto County and Hinds Behavioral Health Services will operate the team based in Jackson.

PACT is an individual-centered, recovery-oriented, mental health service delivery model for facilitating community living, psychological rehabilitation and recovery for persons who have the most severe and persistent mental illnesses and have not benefited from traditional outpatient services.

 “We have developed a motto with our PACT teams, and that is ‘Whatever it takes,’” said Andrew Day, Director of Adult Services in the DMH Bureau of Community Mental Health Services. “That’s what we do. It’s all about the individuals we’re serving. The teams figure out how to deliver services in the best way possible to each individual.”

These four new teams will be in addition to the two DMH currently has in the state, one operated by Life Help Community Mental Health Center based out of Greenwood and one operated by Warren Yazoo Mental Health Center based out of Vicksburg.

PACT Teams serve individuals who may have gone without appropriate services. They are mobile, delivering services in the community and enabling individuals to avoid treatment in an inpatient setting. Each PACT team is made of individuals from multidisciplinary backgrounds who share responsibility for addressing the needs of the individuals served.  The services they deliver are individually tailored for each individual to address their goals and preferences. 

The PACT teams that have already been operating have made a significant difference for the individuals they have served, said Charles Stampley, Team Leader for the Warren-Yazoo PACT program.

“I think there is a strong need for programs like PACT,” he said. “All of the services are individualized for each client, and are as hands-on as any program could get. I believe for the underserved and less responsive to traditional mental health clients, a program such as this that encompasses a holistic approach is what the client would need.”

Stampley said the PACT teams have had a significant impact for individuals who are homeless, and approximately 25 percent of those the team serves are homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless. They often have significant financial conflicts, he said.

“PACT has seen dramatic benefits within this area, as all but one individual of the 25 percent has been paired with housing. About one third of the 25 percent has allowed PACT to assist them with money management.

“It has meant a lot to the individuals served, as it has meant for us to provide the service,” Stampley said.

Though each of the four new PACT teams are just in the beginning stages of their formation, Day said he is hopeful they will be operating and serving individuals in their respective areas before the end of the year. In the four years DMH has had PACT teams operating, they have been extraordinarily successful in helping individuals in recovery by ensuring they can stay and participate in the communities of their choice.

Mental health is a serious public health problem in Mississippi. In 2013, more than 165,000 people needed treatment for a mental health issue. Since many people do not seek help, Mississippians must continue to have conversations on mental health in order to increase understanding and stay focused on the concept of recovery – a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Recovery is unique to each individual and can truly only be defined by the individuals themselves. 

“Recovery not only benefits the individual, it benefits the entire community,” said Diana Mikula, DMH Executive Director. “Evidence-based programs such as PACT Teams are essential to keep individuals in the community and help them continue on their road to recovery. We must continue to expand Mississippi’s community-capacity for the individuals served by the public mental health system.”

If you or someone you know is in need of services and supports, call the DMH’s 24 hour-a-day, 7 days a week at 1-877-210-8513 or visit www.dmh.ms.gov.