Engagement of individuals with serious mental illnesses in community mental health services is a significant challenge. The Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) is an individual-centered and self-contained mental health program that provides psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation, and support services to persons with serious mental illness who have a history of or likelihood of disengagement with services. Understanding what helps and hinders consumers’ involvement in PACT services may provide information on how to tailor engagement strategies to individuals based on their treatment needs and preferences. The current study builds on existing studies by exploring factors that help and hinder engagement in PACT services from the perspectives of individuals receiving treatment. We conducted open-ended, semi-structured interviews with 17 individuals receiving PACT services. Nine themes were identified through thematic analysis: Desirable qualities of PACT, Focusing on positive outcomes, PACT as a safety net, Recovery orientation, Practical barriers, Conflictual relationships, and Medication side-effects. We conclude that the development of a trusting, therapeutic relationship that is collaborative and person-centered and that is facilitated by both practical and emotional support is critical to engaging individuals in treatment and maximizing positive outcomes.

Megan E. Gandy-Guedes , PhD, Jennifer I. Manuel , PhD, Miriam George , PhD, Shenee McCray , MSW & Dina Negatu , MSW
Social Work in Mental Health, Volume 16, 2018 – Issue 4
https://doi.org/10.1080/15332985.2017.1399194
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15332985.2017.1399194