“Graduating” from the ACT team

My social worker at the hospital explained to me that after I was discharged from the hospital, following my second episode of psychosis, I would be transferred over to a community mental health organization that would support and help me with my recovery.   He registered me for Assertive Community Treatment (ACT); however, they didn’t have space for me at the time so I was put on a waiting list.  Meanwhile, as I waited,  I was placed in the care of FCMHAS, a local community-based mental health agency.  I met with a case worker every few weeks to discuss how I was doing.  I only saw him a few times before I was discharged.  I waited for a few months before I was finally admitted into an ACT team provided by Providence Care, a local health provider.

The ACT team consists of a variety of health professionals who provide treatment,     rehabilitation, support services to those with serious mental illnesses.  They include a psychiatrist, occupational therapist, nurse, dietitian, social worker and a peer support worker.  Each patient in the care of an ACT team has an occupational therapist or social worker assigned to them as their primary contact or “case worker”, and a psychiatrist.

For nearly two years, I was seen by an ACT team.  The first year I was assigned an occupational therapist as my case worker.  I really liked her.  She was friendly, supportive, and a good listener.  I saw her almost every two weeks and we would discuss how everything was going with me.  We would meet up for coffee, or go for a walk.  She even went with me to an art gallery.   She later moved on to a different job.  Consequently, I was then assigned a new case worker; this time a social worker.  My new case worker was also very friendly, supportive, and easy to talk to.  She would often come by, pick me up and drive me to our outings.  She has taken me to conservation parks, two of our art galleries, and to cafes.  The outings gave me a chance to get out of the house and be in the community.

I also saw a psychiatrist on a regular basis, usually every two weeks.  We often talked about my progress, what I was up to, any changes in my life.  I could ask about my medications, my symptoms, and side effects. It was really helpful to be seen and heard by a specialized doctor.

I have found that the ACT team was really there for me in difficult times.  They were with me when I started a new job.  I told both the doctor and my social worker that I was anxious about it.  They said that it was natural that I was worried, but that the more exposure to the job I get, the less anxious I would be.  I also remembered that after my first day at work my social worker called me and asked how everything went.  I told her it was all right and that it was only a “shadow” the experienced worker kind of day.  But just to have her call to check up on me meant a lot to me.

In late October of this year,  I was told that I was doing really well and that I wouldn’t need the support or services of the ACT team anymore.  I was very disappointed and sad to hear this as I really valued the ACT team.  I liked having someone to talk to about my health, and how my life is going.  I also really enjoyed the outings too.  It was a chance to be social.  I don’t have many friends that I interact with so it was nice to have someone take me out and talk to me.  My case worker said that being discharged, or “graduate” as she called it, from the ACT team was a good thing.  It meant that I was better.  But I will miss it, especially the social interaction aspect.

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