Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) is one of Ocean Mental Health Services’ newer programs that supports treatment resistant consumers in finding long lasting wellness in the community. When someone has a mental illness it is sometimes difficult for them to follow through with their treatment. IOC helps individuals find ways to make treatment more manageable. IOC staff works towards creating a partnership with clients by giving them the support and guidance they need to develop goals, overcome obstacles, and achieve lasting success.
This is the story of Joe; Joe is a 46 year old man, living with his mother in New Jersey. Joe was diagnosed with a serious mental illness. His mother started noticing symptoms of his illness at the young age of 15. As Joe got older his symptoms became more intrusive in his life. This included poor hygiene, religious and sexual preoccupation, psychosis, and paranoia. In addition, he was having difficulty expressing himself in a logical manner. There had also been episodes of alcohol and marijuana abuse in his earlier life. Joe was in and out of multiple hospitals for years and upon discharge did not follow through with his planned care. He did not want to take his needed medication, as this was interfering with his life choices. In 2011, Joe was admitted to St. Barnabas Behavioral Healthcare hospital three times. Each time Joe was discharged from the hospital he struggled with his aftercare. He then became involved with IOC.
The first thing the IOC staff did was get to know Joe, his life story, his continuing struggles, and the goals he wanted to achieve. They were able to help Joe develop steps towards reaching these goals and gave him the basic life skills needed to achieve them. Joe’s four goals were to get a job, get his driver’s license, own a home, and to find a loving relationship. This is very similar to what everyone strives for, the ability to have the independence needed to live a life of wellness. The dedicated IOC staff helped Joe find a medication that stabilized his illness and yet did not interfere with his life choices. The IOC program educated Joe’s mother on his illness and built a strong relationship with her. Another symptom of Joe’s illness was repeated calls to the OceanCrest crisis services program. These excessive phone calls to Ocean Crest alerted IOC that Joe needed a higher level of care. They connected Joe to Project Anchor Partial Care Services, which he attended 5 days a week, 6 hours each day. IOC was able to work with Project Anchor staff to redirect and set boundaries for Joe. When he became really stressed, IOC and Project Anchor worked together to help Joe use the new skills he was learning. When Joe needed a break from the structure of Project Anchor Partial Care, the two programs worked collaboratively to give him “vacations” from Partial Care while IOC provided him with additional in home supports. Joe completed Project Anchor in December of 2013 and then continued to work with supportive employment services, where he could gain supports in job skills, pre employment preparation and employment support.
With the help of IOC Joe learned new ways to make his treatment more manageable, improved his life skills and connected with the right treatment and the right medication. Joe is now attending job interviews and is well on his way to achieving all of his goals!