In September, Dr. Gary Morse shared his expertise of Assertive Community Treatment in China.
Morse, a pioneer of using Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) as a treatment model for people living with severe mental illness who have experienced homelessness, helped provide training to support the newly-started services in China.
After receiving an initial training from one of Morse’s colleagues in 2016, six ACT teams are currently operating in China. These teams represent China’s first effort to provide ACT, an evidence-based treatment for people with serious mental illness. China’s goal is to double that number. Morse provided training to the additional staff members for the new teams while also consulting with the ACT teams that started in 2016.
“They’ve seen from the initial startup that there’s been good reductions in the hospitalization rate and significant increases in client functioning,” Morse said. Morse serves as the Vice President of Research and Development at Places for People and has been in the field for 30 years. He also oversees the clinical services reporting line that includes four ACT teams at PfP.
He observed that a major difference between the two country’s is that the mental health system in China is more closely tied into the country’s hospital system and less community based than in the USA.
Another difference between the two cultures involves support systems. “Family is much more important, plays a much bigger role in Chinese culture than it does in America.”
People living with severe mental illness in China are much more likely to be living with family members compared to the USA. This means that in China, an ACT team might include a family specialist, and might not have as much of a need for a housing expert, as compared to ACT teams in the USA.
During his time in China, Morse was able to complete some sight-seeing for two days before conducting the training on ACT. After the daylong training session, Morse provided two days of consultation.
“I was very impressed with their commitment to excellence and high quality services, and wanting to give solid research-based treatment to people to make a difference in their lives while overcoming cultural differences to do so.”
More than 130 people attended the training session. Morse was assisted by a translator who recently earned her Master’s degree from Indiana University.
“It was clear that there are many Chinese mental health workers who want to make a difference in people’s lives. And they are eager to learn about how best to be able to do that while excited and nervous about the prospects of starting up a new team. You could see the compassion and the excitement and the interest and the nervousness in people’s eyes.”
More training sessions are scheduled for 2018.
“They’re wanting to really develop and provide the best treatment to people,” Morse said. Just like the staff at Places for People.