If you missed it earlier this month, this Webinar on AOT is a MUST WATCH!
SAMHSA Starts a Conversation on AOT -- published by the
Treatment Advocacy Center
(Dec. 3, 2013) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a federal agency charged with improving the quality and availability of mental health services, presented a highly illuminating public seminar yesterday on assisted outpatient treatment (AOT). Held at SAMHSA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland with live webcasting to hundreds of registrants, the event included Treatment Advocacy Center Policy Director Brian Stettin as a panelist.
In the first half of the program, Duke University professors Marvin Swartz and Jeffrey Swanson gave highlights of the many AOT studies that they have conducted in New York and North Carolina, dating back to the late 1990’s. Their findings made a persuasive case that if properly implemented, AOT is a cost effective means to improve outcomes for people with severe mental illness who struggle with treatment adherence.
In the panel presentation that followed, Brian cautioned against misinterpreting Drs. Swartz and Swanson’s findings to mean that AOT was only useful in states with ideal availability of community-based services. The panel also featured Dr. Stephanie Le Melle, Co-Director of Public Psychiatry Education at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, who spoke of the positive results she has had in treating patients under AOT, and Chaku Mathai, a peer advocate and longtime AOT opponent.
While we have certainly taken our shots at SAMHSA over the years for inattention to the needs of people with severe mental illness, today we offer only praise for facilitating this critical discussion. In her remarks, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde promised that yesterday was “only the beginning” of the agency’s plans to keep AOT in the spotlight. Count us in for whatever’s next.