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Review for Act For Mental Health, San Jose, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

ACT for Mental Health has been serving the needs of down town San Jose for over fifty years. It was started as a grass roots organization, in response to the closing of Agnews State Hospital, and continues to help the chronically mentally ill through its Drop in Center, activities, and nutrition program.
Today, ACT serves the surrounding community with Counseling Services, Parent and Child Reunification programs, and Support Groups for Spanish speaking parents. Although ACT is operated on a shoe string, it has an outreach program to the local Community School (alternative high school for troubled teens).
Services are provided on a sliding scale, but ACT takes pride in turning no one away because of their inability to pay. The recent financial crisis has caused additional stress in the community ACT serves, resulting in a large upsurge of requests for counseling for anxiety and depression.
Given ACT’s limited resources, it would have been expected that they would limit the number of new patients. Instead, ACT launched a grass roots outreach, placing small, hand lettered notices in coin operated laundries, schools and libraries to reach people that needed their help.
I’ve never met a harder working, or more dedicated group of people. And, the most amazing thing about ACT is it is a joyous environment. These people truly enjoy their work.

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ACT is somewhat legendary in the community, as is its long serving CEO, Wanda Alexander. I was told by a psychiatric nurse that, at ACT, the carpets are thread bare, but the services are first rate. That's true. ACT truly cares for, and respects their clients.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

ACT is stuggling to make ends meet, as are most non-profits in this economy. A critical short term priority is the Senior Life Story project, and outreach to isolated, possibly depressed elders, that would increase their involvement in the community, and provide young volunteers with an opportunity to understand the lives, history, and contributions of their elders.

What is its top priority in the long run?

In the long run, ACT hopes to increase office space, especially handicap accessible office space to serve more clients. That will require more fund raising and week end volunteers willing to weild a paint brush and run internet cables.

Role:  Board Member & I've served as a board member.