What is the ACT program in Harris County?

In our community, a person with a mental health issue might fall between the cracks and be unable to perceive the help and care that he or she may need to better their life. Although there are doctors, therapists, mental hospitals, clinics, and other resources available both in the private and public sectors and Harris County that does not mean that the help gets to the people who need it the most. As a result, Harris County has stepped up and assisted individuals in their time of need by providing them with mobile help.

The Harris County assertive community treatment program allows mental health counselors and professionals to be able to find persons who need help from a mental standpoint and treat them physically where he or she may be. The experience of our attorneys is that many of the efforts to treat persons with mental health impairments have been limited due to the difficulties in physically providing the care that these people need. What the Harris County assertive community treatment program allows for is mobile help that is ready at the drop of a hat to locate and treat an individual who needs help with their mental health.

In this way, the care provided to a person with a mental health impairment becomes personalized. Consider that if you have a loved one who suffers from a mental health impairment, he or she may need continuous and around-the-clock care for a crisis that he or she is going through. As a result, this program allows for personalized care that caters to the specific circumstances that your loved one finds themself in. For example, if your loved one presents as a danger to themselves or others then procedures can be followed to help your loved one find an inpatient psychiatric facility where he or she can receive care. On the other hand, if your loved one is suffering an acute incident and is not a danger to themselves or others then a primary care doctor can be located to manage your loved one’s medications and continue with care.

Finally, the assertive community treatment program allows for job placement activities to go on. In some cases, a person slips into a mental health crisis or episode because of economic instability, housing problems, or a combination of the two. Harris County recognizes that consistent work and assistance can help reduce the likelihood that a mental health issue arises because of problems securing work. The resources available to your loved one through Harris County have been increasing in recent years and familiarizing yourself with these resources can be a great benefit to you and those in your life.

More on the Assertive Community Treatment team in Harris County

Psychiatric symptoms of an individual with a mental health disorder can be difficult to treat even in a medical ward or clinic. While some aspects of the care for a mental health issue may be like the care needed for a physical health issue, there may not be all that much overlap. As a result, there exists a need in our community to integrate whole-person care- treatment for mental issues that require examination of a person’s physical person, as well.

Assertive Community Treatment teams can help bridge this gap and provide the type of care your loved one may need. For instance, let’s presume that you have a cousin who had a neurological condition that due to him not having insurance went untreated for many months. At that time, he was not able to take medication and developed aggressive personality traits and other disorders on the mental side of things, as well. In this situation, assertive community care could be a way to help treat your cousin using community resources. This is as opposed to your cousin seeking care only from a primary care doctor who may be ill-equipped to handle the mental issues brought about by their physical illness.

Integrating different types of care within one source has been a major effort of both the mental health and medical professions over the past several years. One of the main motivators of this movement has been striking statistics that have seen persons with mental health issues suffer mortality rates related to medical issues higher than people in the general population. As a result, governments, the private sector, and the healthcare industry have worked to integrate care of various sorts so that persons with mental health issues can receive the care that they need.

Harris County has embraced the concept of the patient-centered medical home. Under this approach, your primary care provider team organizes County Medical services, focusing particularly on addressing the mental health and substance abuse issues of individuals with mental illnesses. A dedicated team will provide care to your loved one and build familiarity with them. Since the team coordinates care more effectively, your loved one will receive consistent care throughout their life.

Community treatment has existed for around 50 years and treats patients who have severe mental illness and who have not been compliant with outpatient treatment. If your loved one is not compliant with their medication, struggles with attending doctor’s appointments, and is generally difficult to work with on a schedule then the assertive community treatment team of Harris County may be something worthwhile for you and your family to investigate. One of the main reasons that this model has seen success is that the providers of care persist in providing that assistance to people with mental health issues even when it appears that the services are not working at first.

It is a reality for many people like your loved one to receive no treatment or less treatment than they need for an extended period. The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is especially true when it comes to people facing mental health issues that stem from treatable physical issues. The ability to attend a primary care doctor appointment and receive regular medication could be enough to help someone stave off the ill effects of an illness or acute condition. However, lack of access to primary care doctors can put a loved one in a position where he or she must battle a condition on their own.

One thing is certain: a person with a mental illness who feels compelled to self-medicate and manage the condition without professional help often misses opportunities to improve their daily life and address many underlying conditions contributing to their mental difficulties. What began as a normal reaction to a physical issue can evolve into a chronic mental health problem that continues to affect your loved one for years. Instead of accepting this as a reality, your loved one can benefit from services available in our area, such as assertive community treatment.

Applying for involuntary commitment of a loved one

However, it may happen that your loved one’s mental health deteriorates to the point where they require involuntary commitment for care. In that situation, you can legally apply for a commitment warrant from a local probate court judge, enabling your loved one’s commitment to a mental institution even without their agreement. The legal system views this as a last resort, and every possible step to protect your loved one before resorting to involuntary commitment will be explored. Nevertheless, if your loved one poses a threat to themselves or others, involuntary commitment may become necessary.

For you to be able to get a mental health warrant from a county probate court judge, you need to apply first. That application would necessarily include information about the person that you are trying to get treatment for. You and your family should ensure that you gather basic information such as contact information, medical history, any history of substance abuse treatment, and current mental health treatment, if applicable. A medication list can also be helpful.

In this situation, we believe it’s important to emphasize the need for clarity and honesty when you apply for a mental health warrant. If you justify your application and express your concerns about your loved one transparently and straightforwardly, you increase the chances of getting your application approved and scheduling a subsequent hearing to assess whether your loved one can receive ongoing psychiatric care voluntarily. You should provide any information that you believe will be helpful to the judge in this regard.

What can you do in an emergency?

Being in an emergency, where your loved one is going through a mental health crisis is no laughing matter. This is an extremely serious situation where the life of your loved one and your well-being could be at stake. In truth, this is a frightening situation for many families as you may have a loved one on your hands with an undiagnosed mental condition who is unable to control their anger or other emotions at this time. As a result, understanding the steps involved in an emergency involuntary commitment could be essential to their well-being.

In a situation like this, the first step is to immediately dial 911. Depending on your physical location, your local jurisdiction may have a dedicated department for handling mentally ill patients and emergency situations. For example, the Harris County constable’s office has a crisis intervention team that you can reach by contacting 911. This is a resource that many people are not aware of, and it can make the difference between a favorable and an unfavorable outcome in your situation.

When law enforcement or other personnel arrive at the scene of an emergency involving your loved one experiencing a mental health crisis, they will first assess whether your loved one is over the age of 18 and whether that person poses a substantial risk of harm to themselves or another person. If the answer to this question is yes, then law enforcement has the authority to take that person into police custody and then transport them to a mental health facility. Even if your loved one does not want to go to the mental health facility, law enforcement can still follow these steps. You, another family member, or a medical provider can request an involuntary commitment of your loved one as part of the involuntary commitment process.

Is there a difference between a guardianship and an involuntary commitment?

As guardianship attorneys, we at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan often receive questions about the difference between a guardianship proceeding and an involuntary commitment. In short, they differ. An involuntary commitment entails committing your loved one to a mental institution or psychiatric hospital against their will through a legal process. On the other hand, guardianship, a separate legal means from involuntary commitment, allows you or another person to gain the authority to act on behalf of an incapacitated person, ensuring their well-being.

Contrary to popular belief, just because you are someone’s legal guardian does not mean that you can commit your ward to a psychiatric hospital against the ward’s will. When you become a guardian, your role involves stepping into the place of your ward and making decisions on that person’s behalf. When a person becomes incapacitated, they become unable to make decisions for themselves or manage their estate. Involuntary commitment arises in situations where your loved one requires mental health treatment but is unwilling to consent to it themselves. In this scenario, your loved one may not exhibit the incapacitation typically seen in a guardianship proceeding. He or she may simply need some medical help that would otherwise be unavailable but for the involuntary commitment.

This is a tough determination to reach on your own. It may look like your loved one is struggling with their mental health and their activities of daily living. However, it can be difficult to determine the extent of the care that he or she may need. An involuntary commitment is not appropriate for all people in all situations. An involuntary commitment should be seen as a last resort in situations where your loved one has become a threat to himself or others. Otherwise, there are resources which are available in the community that could better suit him or her and their needs.

Meeting with an experienced guardianship attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is a great way for you to determine whether an involuntary commitment, guardianship, or other arrangement on behalf of your loved one is in their best interests. You can meet with our lead guardianship attorney, Megone Trewick, at no charge. Ms. Trewick is not only experienced in this area of the law but she has made so much information available through our website about this subject. Please feel free to poke around our website to learn more about us and the services we can provide to you as one of our clients.

Above all else, we understand that facing the challenges that come with caring for a loved one with a mental illness is not easy. Many of the issues that you face can seem insurmountable if you are not aware of the community resources available to you. It may be that some services work better than others for your situation in your loved one. As a result, it is in your best interest and that of your loved one for you all to learn about as many of these services as possible so that you can determine which direction to go in when it comes to finding the appropriate care for him or her. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to help you on the legal side of things should a guardianship or other arrangement become necessary. Thank you for spending time with us today here on our blog.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed guardianship attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about guardianship and mental health issues as well as how your family could be affected if a probate case were to be filed.

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