Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Information on the Program associated with Kendra's Law

Erie County administers a program that provides Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). This Program involves enhanced monitored comprehensive behavioral health services. Services are provided to individuals with a mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. The following questions and answers will help explain this new initiative and how to access Assisted Outpatient Treatment Services in Erie County.

Who may be eligible for AOT?

A person may be eligible to obtain AOT if he or she:

  • is at least 18 years of age and suffers from a mental illness; and
  • is unlikely to survive in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination; and
  • has a history of non-compliance with treatment for mental illness which has led to either 2 hospitalizations for mental illness in the preceding 3 years, or resulted in at least 1 act of violence toward self or others, or threats of serious physical harm to self or others, within the preceding 4 years; and
  • is unlikely to accept the treatment recommended in the treatment plan; and
  • is in need of AOT to avoid a relapse or deterioration that would likely result in serious harm to self or others; and
  • will likely benefit from AOT.

Treatment can be court ordered; however, before a court will order AOT, it must be satisfied that AOT is the least restrictive alternative for the person. Thus, if a less restrictive program of treatment exists that could effectively deal with a person's mental illness and needs, this will be the first option. The goal is to achieve and maintain stability through linkage with the most effective and least restrictive services available. To achieve this goal, the Erie County Department of Mental Health has designated community based Care Coordination Teams such as Programs of Assertive Community Treatment or Health Home Plus Care Management to coordinate and /or deliver AOT services consistent with an Individualized Services Plan.

What is the process for obtaining AOT for someone?

Contact the Erie County Department of Mental Health's AOT Program at 716-858-7059, 716-858-7357 or 716-858-2893. Appropriate staff will respond to your concerns and questions while gathering information and determine if making a referral is appropriate. If appropriate, referrals are submitted via www.eriespoa.org. Once the referral is received, a formal AOT investigation process will begin to determine eligibility.

When does the Court system become involved in the process?

After diligent efforts have been exhausted and a consumer remains at risk, a petition will be initiated to ensure safety and treatment compliance. The petition, which is a formal statement of facts demonstrating that the person meets the criteria for AOT, by the director of community services, must be accompanied by the affidavit of an examining physician. The affidavit must show that the physician examined the person and developed a treatment plan prior to filing a petition, and that the consumer meets the criteria.

AOT Care Coordination Programs

These teams assess the consumer's current status and needs, develop individual service plans, monitor and reassess needs on an on-going basis and respond to crisis situations. Staff work with an array of community organizations and are on-call twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams

ACT-BPC

  • Operated by the Buffalo Psychiatric Center*
  • *Referrals accepted only from BPC inpatient, BPC outpatient and BPC housing

ACT

  • BestSelf Behavioral Health

ACT

  • Spectrum Human Services
Health Home Plus Care Management
  • Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers
  • Buffalo Psychiatric Center (BPC)
Care Coordination Program
  • Spectrum Human Services
  • BestSelf Behavioral Health 
Additional Consumer Services
  • Consumers have the opportunity to access legal representation throughout their involvement with the AOT program from Mental Hygiene Legal Services. For more Information call 716-845-3650.
  • In order to ensure personal choices regarding mental and physical care, if one becomes incapable of making treatment decisions, one may wish to document preferences in an Advance Directive. More information about Advance Directives can be obtained by contacting the WNY Independent Center Project or Mental Hygiene Legal Services.
  • To enlist the help of a peer, contact the intake coordinator at the WNY Independent Living Center (716-836-0822), and for information or self-help groups, contact Action for Mental Health (716-871-0581) or Mental Health Advocates of WNY (716-886-1242)

Erie County Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program VALUES

The Erie County AOT Program supports the following values in implementing services under Section §9.60 of the NYS Mental Hygiene Law:

  • To help each mental health consumer who is referred to the Program to achieve and maintain stability through linkage with the most effective and least restrictive services available.
  • To promote a flexible service delivery system providing each consumer opportunities to negotiate an individual service plan which is specific to his/her needs and preferences, with appropriate participation and support of service providers and significant others.
  • To involve the consumer community in the overall planning and evaluation of services.
  • To utilize Peer Support wherever possible to enhance consumer engagement and involvement in services.
  • To utilize Diversion to the extent possible at every stage of the process, to maximize positive interventions and minimize legal constraints.
  • To enhance the ability of consumers to live safely in the community.
  • To serve as a resource to hospitals and other service providers in discharge planning and assisting consumers in making positive transitions between levels of care.
  • To identify gaps in the service delivery system and to promote development of services to respond to needs.
  • To continually improve AOT services through evaluation of service delivery initiatives.

Important Agencies and Phone Numbers

Agency Phone Number
Action for Mental Health 716-871-0581
Crisis Services 716-834-3131
Erie County Department of Mental Health Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program 716-858-8096
BestSelf Behavioral Health Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) 716-856-2587
Mental Health Advocates of WNY 716-886-1242
Mental Hygiene Legal Services 716-845-3650
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Buffalo & Erie County 716-877-9415
Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC) 716-884-2903
Peer Support Line (Non-crisis) 716-834-7337
Western New York Independent Living Project 716-836-0822