Soteria Vermont is a project of the Vermont state government, which seeks to be a leader in mental healthcare. When Hurricane Irene washed away Vermont’s state mental hospital, Vermont’s government chose to replace it with a network of smaller, community-based and alternative approaches to mental health care. Citizens of Vermont are legally entitled to alternatives to psychiatric medication; Soteria Vermont will be the second replication in the United States (after Alaska’s) of Loren Mosher’s Soteria project which demonstrated in the 1970’s the efficacy of housing people experiencing first psychotic breaks with sympathetic non-professionals as housemates, in the style of R.D. Laing’s Kingsley Hall. The original Soteria was dedicated to using little or no psychiatric medication, and to using that only in the short term to stabilize a crisis. Repeated analyses of its records show extremely robust and long-lasting recovery from even the most extreme psychotic states.
Here, Steven Morgan, the project’s director, gives a short history of the project’s origins. Beginning this fall, Steven will be seeking a site for the house and creating a training program for the staff with the goal of opening the house’s doors in the fall of 2013. Vermont has dedicated $1 million per year to the project.
Mad in America will be following the project, through video interviews and documentaries, as well as Steven’s blogs (when his schedule permits).