For the past fifteen-plus years, Community Connections has examined the complex and interacting mental health and substance use problems of consumers. One current project is described below.
Options Plus Project (October 2006-2012)
The Options Plus project, a five-year program funded by SAMHSA provides a comprehensive package of evidence-based services for homeless individuals with severe mental disorders who are part of a post-booking jail diversion program in the District of Columbia. The purpose of Options Plus is to assist these individuals find and keep stable housing by providing integrated services that simultaneously address co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, unemployment, and trauma. Based on lessons learned from a pilot project offering short-term support to the target population, Options Plus, through Community Connections, the project’s lead agency, serves enrollees referred under a collaborative agreement with the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency. The target population brings a complex set of challenges to this homeless services project: severe mental disorders, substance abuse, and histories of violent victimization as well as criminal justice involvement. An integrated and comprehensive set of services is thus necessary in response to these complex, interrelated concerns.
Options Plus offers three evidence-based practices embedded in a set of extensive community supports tied to a multi-level network of service-enriched housing. An established Forensic Intensive Case Management (FICM) team provides closely integrated community supports. Through this team, Options Plus offers expanded access to (1) Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment; (2) Supported Employment; and (3) Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM) groups for women and men. Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment and Supported Employment are evidence-based practices already recognized widely by the field and by SAMHSA. There is compelling evidence for TREM’s effectiveness in reducing mental health symptoms and substance abuse while increasing recovery skills. These services, offered with the coordination of specially trained forensic Community Support Specialists, are expected to help participants access and maintain stable housing by reducing mental health symptoms and substance abuse; by increasing consistent income from disability benefits and/or competitive employment; by strengthening recovery skills; and by reducing rates of arrest and incarceration. The FICM team arranges for all other necessary supports in each Individual Recovery Plan, including psychiatric services and physical health care. Very importantly, the FICM team also addresses the factor of criminal justice involvement in the lives of these homeless individuals. Finally, participants are given priority access to an elaborate housing network that offers multiple levels of housing organized in a non-linear model with loosely bundled supports. Community Connections has partnered with Policy Research Associates to conduct a formal evaluation of Options Plus. In addition to the outcomes noted above, the evaluation will track the process of service implementation, including fidelity to the treatment models. Feedback from consumers and evaluators will shape project implementation on a continuous basis.
We are extremely excited to partner with Policy Research Associates, an outstanding evaluation team in Albany, New York with a national reputation for leadership in the evaluation of mental health and criminal justice programs.
For more information please contact David Freeman, Psy.D. Options Plus Project Director at 202-281-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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