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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, in cooperation with Harris County Probate Court 3 and the University of Houston, has received a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program for people with serious mental illness.
For this 4-year project, The Harris Center will partner with Harris County Probate Court 3, which has primary jurisdiction over all mental health commitment hearings in Harris County, and UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center to build a coalition of stakeholders involved in the civil commitment process to expand existing service capabilities.
As with most large and growing communities in the country, Harris County's mental health system struggles to keep pace with the expanding demand for services, particularly for high-need individuals. The Houston AOT Program will serve uninsured or under-insured people with serious mental illness who have consistently struggled with adherence to outpatient treatment, including missed appointments and failure to take medication as prescribed. AOT will reduce the number and duration of inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations, homelessness, incarcerations, and interactions with the criminal justice system while improving treatment engagement, treatment adherence, and functional outcomes. This program is designed to work with courts to allow these individuals to obtain treatment while continuing to live in the community and their homes.
"Through this grant, the Houston AOT Program can provide life-changing opportunities to Harris County residents who are struggling with mental illness," said Judge Jason Cox (Harris County Probate Court 3). "We know from research that Assisted Outpatient Treatment can reduce risks such as hospitalization, arrest, incarceration, crime, victimization and violence; we at the Court are excited to work and collaborate with The Harris Center and our other community partners to help these individuals reach their highest potential."
AOT services includes comprehensive health and behavioral health services provided through evidence-based interventions, such as case management, motivational interviewing, psychosocial rehabilitation, cognitive processing therapy (CPT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), substance abuse treatment, and other services, as appropriate.
Wayne Young, CEO of The Harris Center said, "Assisted Outpatient Treatment fills a significant gap in our mental health delivery system in Harris County. With the availability of these intensive services and collaboration with our partners, we can help people with serious mental illness avoid jail, hospitalization, and psychiatric emergency services."
The program will be evaluated by the University of Houston.
If you would like more information about this topic, please call Karen Boren, Director of Communications at 713-970-3920, or email Karen.Boren@TheHarrisCenter.org
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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD strives to provide high quality, efficient, and cost effective services so that persons with mental disabilities may live with dignity as fully functioning, participating, and contributing members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay based on a sliding scale rate schedule.
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