Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a mental health program designed to treat patients with serious mental illness and a history of treatment failure. These patients tend to suffer from severe psychiatric disorders such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. These diseases may leave them unable to have a life outside of a mental institution, the emergency room, or even a jail cell. Due to the nature of severe mental illnesses, some patients stop showing up to their doctor appointments, stop taking medications, and end up in the health care or legal system repeatedly. This revolving door puts a strain on both the health care system and the judiciary system.
Stopping the revolving door
This program is funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), SIU School of Medicine, and the Sangamon County judicial system. These organizations support keeping individuals with serious mental health issues out of “the system” and in society as a productive member with a high quality of life.
We are looking for participants who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and whose disease keeps them returning to the health care system and the judiciary system. Typically, these patients have failed attempts at treatment, have been institutionalized at a mental health facility one or more times, have been a physical threat to themselves or others, and are unlikely to be successful in their future endeavors due to their illness. Eligible participants must be over 18 years of age.
AOT program details
Services in the program include regular visits to a licensed psychiatrist and a social worker, and visits from a community health worker. A community health worker may help in obtaining medication and other needs such as food, monitoring, and reporting patient progress to the courts.
Help starts with a request
AOT petitions can start with health care providers, family, or friends. Refer a patient to this program by submitting a request for the SIU Medicine team to reach out.
The SIU Medicine team will help you start a petition for your loved one to be part of the AOT program. Then a psychiatrist will examine the patient and determine if they will benefit from a court-ordered outpatient treatment regimen. If the psychiatrist approves the patient’s enrollment, the petition will need to be signed by a witness. The witness will need to know about the patient’s mental instability and go to the court with a certificate from the psychiatrist.
If the court determines that the patient meets the criteria for AOT, a judge issues an order. These orders last up to 90 days but can be reinstated by the judge as seen fit. Failure to comply may result in commitment to an inpatient psychiatry unit.
An assisted outpatient treatment order is a legal document mandating a person follow an assigned treatment plan created by a health care team. This order is reviewed and monitored by a judge. Failure to uphold the agreed treatment plan may result in immediate institutionalization and examination by a board-certified psychiatrist.