Youth ACT: Supporting The Teen Mental Health Crisis in Minnesota

Oct 12, 2023

What is Guild’s Youth ACT Program?

Youth Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Services help teens aged 14-21 living with a severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). The program helps them navigate their diagnosis, treatment, and functioning in the community—and find success in education, employment, and community living. Designed to promote optimal health and success, our Youth ACT Services are a comprehensive and community-based approach to serving those with diagnosed mental illness(es) and co-occurring substance use disorders or other medical conditions.

Eight Guild staff members make up our Youth ACT team, including licensed clinical professional counselors, RNs and psychiatric nurses. The community-based nature of this work means meeting clients at home, school, or work—sometimes providing them with transportation to work or home. We take clients to appointments relating to housing, medical, or other needs. We even take clients out to fun activities in the community such as museums or parks to support their social growth and build community.

Why is Youth ACT important?

Youth ACT clients often have significant trust issues, especially with adults. When the team is able to form a trusting bond and begins to see engagement, it can be life-changing for both parties. Especially today, following years of distance learning for young people: Historically, teachers and school staff would often be the first to notice signs of illness or distress and refer them to care. When attending school from home, especially home environments with triggers or barriers, it made it nearly impossible for many kids to get the care they needed.

Who does Youth ACT serve?

Youth ACT best serves clients who don’t respond to traditional treatment methods or approaches for one reason or another and helps ensure they receive comprehensive support including physical healthcare and dental care. Youth ACT clients must be between the ages of 14-21 and live in the Twin Cities metro area. 

Most of the youth we serve face more than one barrier in their home life, including substance use, another family member living with an SPMI, homelessness, emancipation, and more. Even when clients enter Youth ACT from a stable home life, often their household earns a low income or they experience other barriers to accessing services.

The majority of the time, Youth ACT clients are referred to Guild from partial hospitalization, an intensive outpatient program, or by social workers and county case management.

What happens when a client exits the Youth ACT program?

Most Youth ACT clients typically go to an adult ACT team, while others might move into a lower level of care such as Targeted Case Management, Behavioral Health Home, or manage their own care in the community. The “P” in SPMI stands for persistent, meaning chronic—so most individuals will continue to need some level of support even after exiting Youth ACT.

Accessible, appropriate services are critical to teens as they navigate life and enter adulthood. Services like Youth ACT can help them stay on a path towards a healthy, stable, fulfilling life.


At Guild, we believe everyone is worthy of the opportunity to create a life with joy, community, safety, and shelter. If you’d like to support us in this work, including services like Youth ACT, make a gift here.

If you’re a social worker, hospital staff member, parent or other concerned individual wondering if a teen in your life might be eligible for Youth ACT Services, please contact us directly at