Healing through Community
Guild Incorporated helps individuals with mental illness lead quality lives. Their Equilibrium program (EQ) connects youth ages 16 to 20 with a community-based alternative to traditional mental health care.
EQ’s approach is an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) model, building a collaborative support network of care providers around young people as they develop their own skills and resiliency to manage their mental health care plans.
“This isn’t a resource that was widely available before now. If you struggled with schizophrenia for example, the traditional treatments were hospitalization or a referral to see a psychiatrist for a certain amount of time,” said Kristin Rotter, EQ team lead. “With this approach, care providers see patients in their homes or out in the community. Office visits are rare, which is helpful for young people starting out with their care.”
The EQ team creates a holistic suite of services, wrapping around clients and allowing for customizable treatment plans. The EQ team includes psychiatric providers, education specialists, employment specialists, registered nurses, licensed drug and alcohol counselors, peer recovery specialists and therapists. The team has weekly meetings to go over patient progress and address any concerns or additional care needs.
The program launched in 2014. From January 2015 through April 2016, EQ has served a total of 61 young people. In 2015, 84 percent of those served maintained or improved their functional status over time and 89 percent maintained or completed their chosen education program.
Guild Incorporated is one of only four sites providing Youth ACT services after the 2011 legislative session added Youth ACT to the Minnesota Health Care Program’s benefit package for Children’s Mental Health. But while the state would help providers bill for services, organizations needed to find community funding to start their programs. The F. R. Bigelow Foundation stepped in to support EQ’s launch.
“F. R. Bigelow Foundation was the bridge that got us over the start-up period of uncovered costs, to sustainability. Our goal was to form our team all at once so clients could have access to all their care providers immediately,” said Dan McNeil, major gifts officer for Guild Incorporated.
“Having this start-up funding gave us legs to stand on when we were not able to bill for enough revenue. Now, the majority of expenses are covered with fee-for-service income and the rest with contributions. Things are going so well now that we are serving more clients than we originally hoped.”