Some people living with mental health issues are considered to have severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). This means these people will need very long-term or permanent treatment and management of their symptoms. Changes in stress levels make these symptoms come and go or become better or worse at certain times. In the past, many individuals with SPMI would end up in a psychiatric institution or hospital. Sometimes these people were not allowed to leave the institution, even though professionals treating them decided they were capable of returning to their communities.
Two women hospitalized in Georgia sued the state when they were not allowed to leave. They argued being kept in the hospital, even after they were cleared to move to a less restrictive setting, was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The case, Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, went to the United States Supreme Court in 1999. The Supreme Court decided the women were correct. If anyone is deemed capable of living in a community setting and they want to move into the community, states must help them.
In 2012, North Carolina agreed with the United States Department of Justice to make sure people with mental health issues are able to live in their communities in the least restrictive settings of their choice. Partners joined with the NC Department of Health and Human Services in implementing the agreement through the Transitions to Community Living Initiative (TCLI).
Partners has a Transitions to Community Living department dedicated to those eligible for the TCLI. Transition support ensures individuals have access to safe and affordable housing in the community, and access to basic community supports to become responsible renters. The TCL department also teaches participants and their friends and family about recovery and activities to control symptoms and promote wellness.
Read more about the Transitions to Community Living Initiative.
The Transitions to Community Living Initiative has six primary components:
- frequent education and discharge planning for individuals in adult care homes and state psychiatric hospitals
- Using options other than adult care homes
- Providing community-based housing and maintaining tenancy
- Supporting paid employment through evidence-based services
- Offering community-based services through Assertive Community Treatment – an evidence-based treatment and support model
- Using data to measure progress