Peer-Run Respite Care
Recently there have been several studies that have been performed about the effectiveness of “Peer-Run Respite” services. In general peer-run respite services are safe places where people with mental illnesses can go as an alternative to traditional in-patient psychiatric treatment. These facilities contrast the experience of the traditional lock-down psych wards. The setting is intentionally created to be home-like environments where persons with mental illness can work with peers who are specifically trained to help people in crisis.
These studies have shown peer-run respite services have a high likely hood of helping those in a state of emotional trauma overcome the specific feelings of fear, hopelessness, loss, shame, and anxiety that is associated with trauma and crisis. This effective process also has been shown to be very cost effective. Studies have shown that costs are up to 70% less than traditional mental ward hospitalization.
Advantages Of This Method Of Care
There are several main advantages of this type of care. Persons with mental illness often feel isolated. Patients frequently feel that traditional modes of therapy are not effective because they fail to restore hope. These therapies traditionally do not come from the lived experience of someone with a mental illness. This tends to develop a sense in the patient that the therapist can not identify with their experience and can promote the feelings of isolation. Some patients feel ill at ease about telling a therapist their thoughts and fears do to the punitive nature of some systems of mental health treatments. If a person with a mental illness says the wrong thing to a therapist a greater restriction of personal freedom may result. This directly diminishes hope and is a disincentive to recovery. In peer-run respite care a patient often comes to look at their trauma as a chance for growth of both personal understanding and growth. This growth can be used by the consumer to assist others as they gain strength and development in their own situation. For some this may lead to employment that assist other people overcome their suffering.
Internationally Practiced And Researched
Peer-run respite care is international. In United States as well as England, Italy, Norway and other countries, this type of care has proven to be effective. Even though many of these countries have different standards of care in their institutions patients of peer-run services report a greater sense of warm greeting and non-judgemental care.
Who Is Conducting And Funding Research
This research has been conducted by State, Federal and academic organizations. SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration), conducted a study in several states over a 10 year period. The conclusions of this report suggest that in the majority of over 1600 cases these consumer lead services built hope, self-efficacy, and empowerment of those with mental trauma.
The most positive results of this research indicated that:
“Wellness functions as an internal resource, with hope the wellspring of motivation for change. When well-being is combined with the treatment of mental illness and favorable external resources and opportunities, hope can jump-start involvement in new activities and empower consumers to sustain their recovery journey.” –Dr. Jean Campbell, Principle Investigator COSP Coordinating Center
It is becoming clear that peer-lead mental health services and their effectiveness is a, “evidence-based” practice in the treatment and recovery of mental illness and trauma. Peer-lead or peer-run mental health services are not limited to respite care facilities. Other types of services based on the same premise are “drop-in centers”, mutual support groups, peer support specialists and other peer lead specialized support services such as forensic peer support in jails and prisons.
Who Can Attend Peer-Run Respite Care
Generally to be eligible to attend peer-run respite services a person must have experienced a mental health crisis but must not be a potential danger to themselves or others. However in some programs such as in New Hampshire persons that are at risk for self-harm are accepted.