What is a "peer"?
A peer is what mental health consumers call each other.
What is a "peer-run respite"?
A peer-run respite is a safe house, where people learn to manage emotional crises in a warm, welcoming, home-like environment, in contrast to locked psychiatric wards, which are institutional and impersonal. Peers find compassion and understanding from a trained peer staff, where they can new skills for recovery. Programs, such as the Wellness Recovery Action Plan prevent relapse, and Peer Specialist certification promote employment.
What does House bill #3584 do?
House Bill #3584 requires the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) to conduct a feasibility study about establishing peer-run respites as progressive alternatives to mental hospitals.
What are the benefits of peer-run respites?
Studies show peer-run respites have clear advantages over mental hospitals. A California study showed "significantly greater improvement" and "satisfaction was dramatically higher" than with a locked psychiatric ward. Self-harm and violence is actually more likely on locked psychiatric wards because of the pressured atmosphere. The cost of a peer-run respite is cost only about $250 per person per day, whereas psychiatric hospitals cost $1,000 per day or more. Over a year, a 3-bed peer respite saves $1 million. Creating 3 respites-in Central, Western and Metro-Suburban Mass.-will save $3 million. Savings are realized on hospital costs, ER visits, police time and ambulance costs. Peer-run respites also save additional money by increasing peers’ independence, so people use less costly mental health services in the future.
Who is eligible to enter peer-run respite programs?
Anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis, but not deemed dangerous to others, will be eligible to go into a peer-run respite. In New Hampshire and Georgia’s progressive, peer-run respites even self-injurious and actively suicidal people are welcome. Peer-run respites would be part of a menu of crisis service options, complementary to existing programs. Participation in all peer-run services is completely voluntary.
Are there successful examples of peer-run respites?
Currently, there are 14 programs-in New York (2), Maine, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Ohio, California and Georgia and 6 overseas. New programs are starting in Vermont, New Mexico, Nebraska and Alaska.
How are other peer-run respites funded?
In some states peer-run respites are funded by federal SAMSHA block grants. In Georgia, 2-bedrooms cost about $300,000 per year, including a drop-in center and 24-hour crisis telephone support. In New York, a 5-bedroom program, with crisis telephone support, costs about $270,000 per year. House Bill #3584 calls for a DMH study to explore options, including funding.