A “Life-Saver” in Quest for Independence
Behavioral Health Services
Ernest has struggled with multiple mental health conditions since he was 20. He moved in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years, unable to find any lasting stability.
“I was suicidal, homicidal, any-cidal – you name it, that was me,” Ernest said.
His mother found Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, where he connected with a Behavioral Health Services PACT team in 2006. PACT stands for Program for Assertive Community Treatment. It’s outreach for people with serious, persistent mental illness who have a history of institutionalization and are at risk of returning to an institutional setting. Catholic Charities has three PACT teams in Mercer County and one in Burlington County, and they work hard to help people live independently in the community.
Ernest, now 56, has become a devoted PACT participant, attending recreational outings, Illness Management Recovery Group meetings, and regular gym workouts with a staffer every week.
“Before, I was in the hospital, say, a good 50 or 60 times. One year, I was in there like every other month – they knew me by name,” Ernest said. “But since I’ve been at PACT, I’ve never been in the hospital since. PACT taught me how to get along and communicate. I feel pretty good about how I am now. I believe I’d have been in prison or dead, if it wasn’t for PACT. It was a real big life-saver in my life.”
Ernest has been hospital-free for over a decade, said Crystal Smith, director of PACT services in Burlington and Mercer counties. “He really embodies what PACT is – getting people to the point of wellness and recovery,” she said.
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PACT TEAMS
Catholic Charities Program of Assertive Community Treatment or PACT consists of four interdisciplinary teams of outreach workers serving the persistently mentally ill in Mercer and Burlington Counties. Each PACT team provides direct services to consumers in the community who have required hospitalization in the state system and who are at risk of returning to an institutional setting. Treatment provided includes psychiatric medical intervention, nursing, counseling, vocational, dual disorder and case management services.
For information about Catholic Charities’ Behavioral Health Services PACT teams, call Crystal Smith at (609) 396-9777, ext. 2216.
ADDITIONAL STORIES OF INSPIRATION
Therapy helped him find answers. His past struggles offer lessons and inspiration for others on the same journey.
Linkages program provided shelter and stability for her and her children.
Rapid Rehousing program helped with her housing, so she can stay close to her sister.
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