Program History

The application for introducing the Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT) by the joint venture of Mount Sinai Hospital (MSH), Hong Fook Mental Health Association (HFMHA) and St. Elizabeth Health Care (SEHC), with special mandate for the ethno-racial population, was approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in July 1999. This offered an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of community mental health services for the severely mentally ill. It also started to address issues related to service access, treatment modality and community linkages and collaboration.

Under the leadership of MSH, HFMHA and SEHC, the program manager was hired in September 1999. A series of meetings were held to initiate the process of recruitment. A part-time psychiatrist was hired in November 1999 in addition to three mental health workers in January 2000. Due to various reasons, the hiring of nursing staff encountered quite a number of difficulties. On February 1, 2000 MSH took over full responsibility for hiring the nursing staff for MSH ACTT.

It is not generally known that the needs of the mental health services for ethno-racial population have been under-estimated. A community mapping survey conducted by Renee Allen and supervised by Dr. Ilene Hyman of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) highlighted the barriers for ethno-racial populations. These are:

  • Cultural inadequacy of hospital staff
  • Social stigma
  • General lack of information about accessing service
  • Long waiting lists
  • Language

The ethno-racial seniors project conducted by Dr. Joel Sadavoy further identified that the languages and communities were the major barrier for accessing the mental health services. The resulted in difficulty getting adequate and appropriate mental health services and inability in fully meeting the needs of a diverse ethno-racial community. However, this situation is changing as the MSH department of psychiatry and the CAMH joint general psychiatry program begin to move forward with a number of new and planned initiatives. MSH ACTT is one of those new and planned initiatives. This initiative includes:

  • The ACTT
  • Joint ventures
  • An ethno-racial mandate
  • Research and evaluation
  • Family assisted model

Since it was a new community out-reach program, the MSH ACTT had to first find a community based office. The lease was signed at the end of September 1999. Obstacles included the set up of the management information system and the hiring an ethno-racial nursing staff. The MSH ACTT started to admit patients on March 10th, 2000.