A peer-run respite center is a non-clinical, completely voluntary service operated by people with their own stories of mental health recovery, trauma, hospitalization, incarceration, substance use, homelessness or some combination of these.
“When you’re in a psych hospital, they take everything — down to your shoelaces — for your protection. Then they slap a diagnosis on you,” Hart explained. “I got worse before I got better.”
Alternatively, the doors at the respite house are not locked. Guests are able to come and go to the store, their job, school or wherever they want to be.
“I think this would have definitely been a healing place,” Hart said. “You’re still part of the community and not on lockdown. In this space, you can feel the warmth, the encouragement, the safety.”An alternative to the psych hospital, run by people in mental health recovery – NC Health News
Stimpunks attempts the peer respite model on a very small scale, providing cash and respite along the lines of Afiya House.
Afiya strives to provide a safe space in which each person can find the balance and support needed to turn a difficult time into a learning and growth opportunity.Afiya Peer Respite
The house is intended to provide an alternative to hospitalization for individuals who are experiencing emotional and/or mental distress, and who feel they would benefit from staying in a community-based environment that offers peer-to-peer support focused on turning ‘crisis’ into a learning and growth opportunity.
The house offers individual bedrooms, community spaces (a living room, a finished basement, a meeting room, a kitchen and a sitting room), a variety of supplies (yoga, art, weighted blankets, etc.), and resource information for up to three people at a time. Stays generally range from one to seven nights.
Everyone who works at Afiya (as with the rest of our community) identifies as having ‘been there’ in some way. Experiences of various team members range from histories of psychiatric hospitalization to trauma to living in residential programs to living without a home to dealing with addiction and so on. No clinical supports are offered, but people who stay at the house have free access to the community where they can keep (or get) connected to clinical supports as desired.Afiya House (full version) – YouTube
The Stimpunks live at we affectionately call the “Irie Smial Preserve for Neurodivergents, Crips, and Burnouts”. We have a few acres of land with hundreds of trees and lots of breeze.
One thing we really like about the Afiya house model is that they provide caves, campfires, and watering holes so that dandelions, tulips, and orchids alike can find respite. Everyone has an individual space as well as community spaces so that they can progressively socialize according to their interaction capacity. Caves, campfires, and watering holes are necessary to designing for neurological pluralism and providing psychological safety. They’re necessary to positive niche construction.
The Irie Smial Preserve is designed by neurodivergents, for neurodivergents. We have space.
“Some autistic people’s needs will conflict with each other. For example, some autistic people may need the TV playing to calm down, as it can help to focus on specific sounds. But for others this may cause more stress depending on their mental state. Additionally, some autistic people may need to stim to feel relaxed and comfortable, or it may be involuntary when they are stressed, but noises they make (e.g. verbal stims), could really stress another autistic person out. I think the key here is space.”“It’s Not Rocket Science” – NDTi
We only have private, lockable space for one more person besides the 6 of us who live here permanently, so we’re limited to hosting one despite our sprawling space.
We’re less capacity constrained with our text-based warm line.
Peer-run warm lines – staffed by people who have lived mental health experience – have been shown to reduce loneliness and participants’ use of mental health crisis services. Additionally, a review of several studies found that digital forms of peer support improve the lives of people with serious mental illness by “enhancing participants’ functioning, reducing symptoms and improving program utilization.”Warm line gives peer mental health support – NC Health News
Stimpunks can do this only at a very small scale, and only occasionally as our high support needs family navigates our own ups and downs.
So, we would like to financially support those doing what we can only sporadically provide. If you provide peer-run respite or warm lines in the Austin, Texas area or elsewhere in Texas, contact us.