Fraser Health goes mobile

Fraser Health has extended a successful mobile mental health program to New Westminster and the Tri-Cities area.

An Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other mental health professionals has been put together to provide service in homes, shelters, parks and drop-in centres, or wherever it's comfortable and convenient for the patients.

ACT "takes mental health support outside the walls of traditional treatment facilities to community settings that are frequented by the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach clients," said a Fraser Health press release.

The first ACT was established in Surrey a year ago and it "is seeing tremendous outcomes," said the release.

"Opening the ACT program in New Westminster and the Tri-Cities communities really helps Fraser Health deliver services and reach a very vulnerable population," said Andy Libbiter, executive director of Fraser Health's mental health and substance use services. "By tracking the results from our first ACT team in Surrey, we can see, first hand, that ACT not only has a positive impact on lives, but it also decreases emergency department visits and lengthy hospital stays."

Internationally, the model is recognized for its effectiveness in serving clients with the greatest needs because it provides flexible, community-based support for adults with serious health issues that have responded well to traditional care. It also has a housing-first philosophy for its clients.

Fraser Health has put $2 million toward the New West/Tri-Cities ACT team which is expected to eventually support 80 to 100 individuals.

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