I’ve talked a lot about the ideals and research and experiences and proofs of the efficacy of peer programs, peer respites, peer hospital diversion programs, peer everything, and I probably have a lot more to say in drafts that I just having refined for publishing. However, what I haven’t done is talk about how these programs are growing throughout the United States and spreading internationally.
This is a good thing. Other things like Ebola, that spreading, that’s bad. Peer programs good. Remember; Ebola: BAD. Peer programs and respites: GOOD.
Although these systems are fairly new, the research, the propositions, have been around since about the 1980’s from my knowledge, but they haven’t gotten good footing until recently. It’s hard to get good footing when you’re pushing up against a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s hard to get funding for good, credible research (in the eyes of science and the APA) when psychology research is more often than not funded by those multi-billion dollar industries. I.e, Big Pharma.
But this isn’t about “fighting the system”. I suppose in a subtle way it is, but it isn’t about the system really, it’s about the people, which is something the system is not about. For us, it’s about communication and connection and relating and processing: processing emotions, processing whatever you yourself considers illness, disability, disorder.
It’s not about diagnosis. We don’t care if your diagnosis is schizoaffective, we just care about what you’re feeling, how you’re reacting, and what we can do to support you through that. Schizoaffective is the last thing on our mind. In fact, we won’t even know a thing about diagnosis unless you tell us: and that’s only if you want to.
And in case you’re confused, peers are people with lived mental health experience supporting you through your experience, whatever that may be.
Most respites have a phone line you can call. We call ours a warmline, I’m not sure what others call theirs, maybe it’s all mutually exclusive. It’s 24/7. It’s not a suicide hotline. If you’re in a crisis and need to chat, and we think maybe you need further support, we can talk to you about how you feel about getting more support. It’s not about calling the police. Obviously immediate, drastic crisis is different. But I’m someone with frequent thoughts of suicide and frequent plans and I’d feel ten times more comfortable telling a warmline that than a hotline that because hotlines just keep asking me “can you guarantee to me that you can be safe tonight?” And I don’t know what the fuck that means and if I say no, they want to get my location and if I say yes then they say “have a good night and stay strong”.
Warmlines are different. We know the feelings you’re feeling and we process them with you to the best of our abilities. I’m not saying we can connect with everyone. I know I’m not a person who has managed to connect with everyone. I try my best, but it’s like life: you’re not going to get along with everyone. Everyone tries their best.
There’s no script or series of questions we have to ask. I like to call it supportive conversation, not active listening. It took me a while to really understand that and be able to offer support through words and not just an ear. I’m still working on it.
You can call for anything. You feel like your thoughts are racing? Call. Feel like your neighbors are watching you? Call. Aliens chatting to you and annoying you? Call. Feeling harassed? Call. Seeing demons nibbling on your feet? Call. Feeling depressed? Call. Feeling anxious? Call. Feeling stressed? Call. Whatever it is, Call.
I’m saying these things to give you alternatives. Alternatives to hospitals, to suicide, to loneliness.
I don’t know the exact places of every respite house in the country. I don’t know which communities have established peer programs or peer hybrid programs, whatever. Take initiative to look it up.
But in the meantime, I do have a list of some respite houses and programs here. They have descriptions and where they’re located. If you don’t see your state or whatever listed, google, google, google. Call, call, call.
They’re out there.
Want more information? Email me.