Frequently asked questions
- What is AOT?
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a legal mechanism for providing outpatient treatment to individuals living with serious mental illness (SMI) whose non-compliance places them at risk for negative outcomes. AOT works by compelling the recipient to receive specific treatment that will prevent their condition from worsening and by committing the mental health system to provide treatment.
- What kinds of services are included in an AOT order?
A wide variety of services are available, including:
- Case management.
- Medication (often via long-acting injectable [LIA] formularies).
- Lab tests to determine medication adherence/ efficacy.
- Outpatient therapy (individual and/or group).
- Day or partial-day programs.
- Educational or vocational training.
- Supervised living (e.g., group homes).
- Assertive Community Treatment (ACT, FACT teams).
- SUD testing and/or treatment.
- Other services at the court's discretion that can prevent relapse or deterioration of the individual's health.
- What are the risks associated with not adhering to treatment for people with serious mental illness?
Many individuals living with SMI do not comply with outpatient treatment for a variety of reasons, often resulting in increased rates of suicide and self-harm, violent behavior, insecure housing, high utilization of ERs, and frequent contact with law enforcement. These behaviors and vulnerabilities lead to high rates of inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and incarceration.
- What are the benefits of AOT?
Effective assisted outpatient treatment programs provide benefits to individuals under care and communities. Studies of AOT programs across the country have shown that individuals receiving AOT had decreased hospitalizations, fewer arrests and incarcerations, fewer homeless nights, less violent behavior, were less often victims of crime, and less substance misuse.
Adequately funded AOT programs create opportunity for significant cost savings. Communities with AOT programs have seen fewer psychiatric emergency crisis services, hospitalizations, and criminal justice involvement, resulting in as much as 58% savings across public services.
- What is an AOT program or system of care?
Studies demonstrate that when adequately funded and carefully implemented, AOT reduces system treatment costs and improves participants' quality of life. But while state laws authorizing AOT are widespread (covering all but three states at the time of this publication), the actual practice of AOT by mental health systems is not.
- Does AOT get someone involved in the criminal court system?
Assisted outpatient treatment orders are filed in your county probate court, a civil court system separate from the criminal court system. AOT is designed to prevent incarceration. Learn more about Michigan's court structure through the quick reference guide.
- How long does an AOT order last?
An initial AOT order can last up to 180 days.
- Is AOT the same as guardianship?
No, assisted outpatient treatment is different than guardianship. Guardianship and AOT last for different lengths of time. To learn more about when guardianship might be more suitable than AOT, learn more about criteria.
- When someone is the subject of an AOT order, do they lose all their rights?
No, individuals under assisted outpatient treatment orders still have rights. Visit the Office of Recipient Rights online to learn more.
- What is probate court?
The probate court handles wills, administers estates and trusts, appoints guardians and conservators, and orders treatment for mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons. There are 78 probate courts in Michigan; probate judges are elected for six-year terms. Learn more from the Michigan trail courts website and the Michigan Courts Reference Guide.
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