Soteria House and Peer Respite Summit


As you know, we are living in a time of great transformation. Our thinking, our lives, our priorities and perhaps seemingly everything in our lives is being re-evaluated and re-aligned to meet our deepest vision and hopes for life in our community and all around the world.

Like me, you may not have heard that we are days away from the first-ever virtual international summit, which represents a significant step forward in our co-creating the emerging future. That is, a future where we use our power to build places in every community to replace the use of force and coercion in the mental health system.

Rethinking Psychiatry has partnered with MindFreedom International to convene the first

International Peer Respite and Soteria Summit: Creating Compassionate Alternatives for People in Crisis and Distress

The virtual Summit will take place for three hours on every Sunday in October from 12pm- 3pm ET. Bob Whitaker is moderating six impressive speakers on Day 1 of the 5-day Summit.

Photograph, silhouettes of businesspeople gathering outdoorsThe Soteria House and peer respite models are both ways of supporting individuals in extreme states. Both models allow individuals to stay voluntarily in a homelike environment, and come and go as they please, while enjoying 24-7 support from non-clinical staff. Neither model forces people to take drugs, yet both have been documented to be very successful at helping people avoid psychiatric hospitalizations.

Come to the Summit if you would like to find out more about these innovative, research-proven significantly effective alternatives to forced psychiatry from experts, including people with lived experience. Even better, find out what you need to know to bring a Soteria House or a peer respite to your community! To register for the Summit:

I also wanted to share a small sample of research findings from Live and Learn, Inc Research — Peer Respites, where I found the data shared in this blog. For example, results from three studies with a control or comparison group are below.

■ Respite guests were 70% less likely to use inpatient or emergency services.
■ Respite days were associated with significantly fewer inpatient and emergency service hours.

Citation: Impact of the 2nd Story Peer Respite Program on Use of Inpatient and Emergency Services. Psychiatric Services. (2015)


■ Statistically significant improvements in healing, empowerment, and satisfaction.
■ Average psychiatric hospital costs were $1,057 for respite-users compared with $3,187 for non-users

Citation: A Randomized Trial of a Mental Health Consumer-Managed Alternative to Civil Commitment for Acute Psychiatric Crisis. American Journal of Community Psychology. (2008)


■ Respite guests experienced greater improvements in self-esteem, self-rated mental health symptoms, and social activity functioning compared to individuals in inpatient facilities
Citation: Findings from a consumer/survivor defined alternative to psychiatric hospitalization. Outlook. (Vol. Spring 2002)

I did want to mention, however, there are numerous other studies. Here are just four published titles: LA County Innovation Peer-Run Model Cost Analysis. Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH). (2016); Innovation (INN) Program Evaluation of the Peer-Run Model. Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH). (2015); The Impact of a Consumer Run Hospital Diversion Program on Quality of Life and Recovery: A Comparative Study. Albany, NY: College of Saint Rose Institute for Community Research and Training. (2009); Evaluation of a peer‐run hospital diversion program: A descriptive study. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. (2011).

Lastly, everything you want to know about peer respites but might have had some fears about asking are found at including information on the 50+ peer respites currently operating in the U.S., a manual and videos on how to start a peer run respite, and other crisis alternatives (e.g., Soteria, warm lines, etc.).


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Lauren Spiro
Lauren’s vision of social justice and mental health liberation focuses on developing our capacity for feeling deeply connected, appreciating the vast creative intelligence of the human heart and mind, and inspiring compassionate action. Her life’s mission is to embody inner peace to co-create global peace, thus she curates transformative learning experiences. She co-founded two non-profit corporations and Emotional CPR ( a public health education program that teaches people how to support others through an emotional crisis. She is a multi-media artist, a 20+ year practitioner of yoga and meditation, the first Director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, has been featured on national media, and consulted on numerous federal projects. Her memoir paints a poetic picture of her journey into madness and her pathway home. She has an M.A. in clinical/community psychology. For more information see