THE 180 MIRACLE I have written about the societal problems associated with mental health disease. Most of my prior columns have focused on the relationship between mental health and crime. I have purposely avoided writing about individuals. I can no longer do that. Recently, I experienced a true miracle; a 180 miracle. A nice local family asked me to represent a man with severe mental health problems. His problems were so severe that no one would post his bond. When I would meet with him, it was like there was a monster inside the body of a human being. He remained in jail as his mental health deteriorated to further dangerous levels. As I thought about what to do, I received a phone call from the Pathways Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACT). This lady told me that she had heard about my client. She also told me there was hope. I did not know this woman and had never heard of the ACT team. After weeks of working to try to get this man out of jail, I did not believe her either. She proved me wrong. After our conversation, the ACT team went into action. First, my client had to be stabilized. This took a few weeks, but eventually the correct level and types of medication were administered at the jail. A family member was now ready to make bond. Since his release, he has complied with his doctors, obtained employment at a local business, and resides at a refuge ministry in the west Georgia area. He also regularly meets with the ACT team staff in order to develop and use skills to prevent hospitalizations. Since his release from jail, he has not had any further legal problems and zero hospitalizations. As part of the ACT program, he also attends substance abuse groups, receives individual substance abuse counseling, and continues to receive individual counseling for anger management. When I saw him in court for a status hearing, I did not even recognize him. He was clean shaven, extended his hand to me, and had a bright confident smile on his face. I was taken aback. In a nutshell, this man’s mental health condition has turned 180 degrees. I have only seen one other case where such a high level of improvement was witnessed. This is a true miracle showing God working through men and women to turn an embattled man’s life around. Well, what about this ACT team? My experience with the ACT team has been professional, compassionate, and result oriented. They have shown me that even severe mental health disease can be overcome with the right approach. They have also given me hope that they can help future clients with mental health disease. While Pathways and the excellent work that they do is well known throughout west Georgia, the ACT team (which is a program within Pathways) is not. The man in this column went from being a hopelessly lost mental health “patient” in a county jail to a tax paying citizen within a matter of months. While the results will vary in every case, I am convinced that the ACT program is the place to contact with scenarios that I have mentioned in this column. I hope that this story has shed some light on the ACT team and the real ways to treat mental illness in our community. For more information on Pathways and the ACT team, please visit www.pathwayscsb.org or call 1-888-247-9048.