HH: Pete Linnett: Recovery From Mental Illness a Reality

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The United States has a growing mental health problem. From an autism diagnosis (1 in every 88 births) to schizophrenia (1.1% of the adult population).

Mental health issues include personality disorders (9.1% of adults), mood disorders (9.5% of the population has a mood disorder and 45% are considered severe), anxiety disorders (18.1% of the adult population and 4.1% of the U.S. population has a severe anxiety disorder).

Pete Linnett, Founder and CEO of Life Adjustment Team

Pete Linnett, Founder and CEO of Life Adjustment Team

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 13.4% of all adults in the U.S. received mental health treatment in 2008.

Pete Linnett, the founder of Life Adjustment Team (LAT) in Culver City, California is an expert in psychiatric care; he states that “Mental illness affects 25% of the population in one form or another.” These individuals are members of family and society. Their illnesses affect those around them. Linnett adds, “We have to figure just about everybody is impacted by mental illness or addiction, either their own or someone they love.”

Oftentimes, mental health problems and substance abuse are both issues for an individual.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the cost for healthcare, because of substance abuse from illicit drugs in the U.S. is $11 billion; alcohol’s cost is $30 billion.

When asked about why the U.S. has a growing mental health crisis, Pete Linnett says, “It seems as life gets more stressful for people, we see more distress and despair which can exacerbate emotional and mental difficulty; people turn to substances just to get by and end up trapped. The very thing that they use for comfort becomes a tormentor on top of everything else.”

Severe mental health issues and substance abuse and addiction are normally physical problems which require medical help. Patients may receive care in a special facility, as outpatients, or in their homes.

In 2009, 23.5 million people over the age of 12 needed treatment for drug abuse. 2.6 million received care at a special facility. Currently the average length of stay in a mental health facility is four and a half days.

20.9 million did not receive treatment at all.

Most people do not get help. The reason in part--there is a stigma surrounding mental illness; substance abuse, less so. Pete Linnett comments, “Often in our field people are treated for their illness, but the whole person is not cared for, in fact it is the opposite, such as describing someone with schizophrenia as a ‘schizophrenic.’ This fuels stigma and keeps people in need from seeking help, until things get out of control.”

Reluctance of a mental health diagnosis, though one was needed, has also not been uncommon due to discrimination against those with a preexisting illness by insurance carriers.

Viewed by society as a disease akin to leprosy, some families do not wish to admit that any member has a problem, as this reflects upon them as well.

For those needing in hospital care, there is a shortage of beds.

Public mental health facilities have been closing during the last two decades and private care cost is exceedingly high.

Untreated citizens place a burden on society. These folks end up in emergency rooms, in jail or prison, or they become homeless.

“At any given time, there are many more people with untreated severe mental illness living on America’s streets than are receiving care in hospitals.” (Treatment Advocacy Center)

Pete Linnett knows what works for the mentally ill –keeping them well, in their homes and out of the hospitals while keeping costs down.

As Founder and CEO, Pete Linnett developed the Life Adjustment Team (LAT) which implements state-of-the-art comprehensive outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment using evidence-based best practices in 1977. Their success rate is the highest in the country—95%.

Contracting with 21 regional centers in California, their case managers go out into the community, to clients’ homes. There, in real-life settings they work with clients on safety issues, keeping them stable through relationships, and helping fill the cracks where otherwise clients would have fallen through, and needed to either return to a hospital or be on the street. This is a relapse stop, mobile outpatient psychiatric program. The LAT motto is this: “Today recovery from mental illness is a well-documented reality.”

(In 1988, Linnett was hired by the UCLA Research Center for Schizophrenia and Psychiatric Rehabilitation, for a project to field test protocols of outpatient services delivery systems and in vivo skills training.)

Pete Linnett: “At LAT, we are more interested in supporting a person through whatever challenge they have. So other than somebody being dangerous to others or possibly at risk themselves, our team provides the structure, support and stability through relationships based on professionalism, trust and personalized one-to-one contact wherever needed. People experience their problems when dealing with life in the community, that’s where not only the support is needed but the real teaching, mentoring and coaching happen.”

Someone with mental illness does not ALWAYS realize that he has this problem. Prevention of a relapse requires early detection and intervention. LAT teaches clients about their prodromal warning signs, which are the very first signals that symptoms are starting to reappear.

Mental illnesses are an imbalance of one sort or another. Some of the physical problems affecting the mind are vitamin and mineral deficiencies, neurotransmitter imbalances and even hormonal ups and downs in women. These factors can be genetic or brought on by life’s stress and aging.

During the balancing, life’s issues must be addressed too: “If somebody has deficits, those must be compensated for. For instance, the stress of competitive employment might not be right for everybody, but meaningful activity every day is, so some service or system must be put in place for a quality life.”~Pete Linnett

Using a mobile outpatient psychiatric rehab is cost effective. They “have been proven to decrease the need for hospitalization,” thereby freeing up hospital beds. Hospitalization costs are minimized.

Pete Linnett has a plan to take his program to every major city in the United States.

Today, Life Adjustment Team boasts more than a 35-year track record.

Each year the team of two Ph.D.s, a licensed clinical supervisor, and 12 case managers see approximately 200 clients and their families.

As a national model, Pete Linnett has shown that this system will work:

“The focus over the last few years has been to develop a duplicable model consisting of a 12 case manager team with three supervisors. A program director oversees all operations with an intake director, family education specialist, and a clinical supervisor overseeing staff. This is supported by three to four administrative people. All of our administrative and clinical procedures as well as training programs have been developed for production to open centers in other cities.”

Repeated unnecessary hospitalizations are taxing financially. Pete Linnett says that with his program there is a significant reduction in the need for re-hospitalization. Insurance companies now recognize the value of his program and hospitals frequently refer patients to LAT. Once stabilized, LAT focuses on real issues of life. Clients receive their drivers’ licenses, gain employment and become active and vital parts of their communities. In essence, they contribute to society rather than repeatedly drain resources. Pete Linnett adds this, “All concerned parties are looking for better outcomes, both insurance companies and treatment providers are looking for community-based sub-acute care that could take best serve all but the most dangerous situations.”

For more information on Life Adjustment Team, contact Pete Linnett at pete@lifeadjustmentteam.com or find him online at lifeadjustmentteam.com

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