Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a plan to reform state psychiatric hospitals and allow for the development of smaller institutions. His plan is not fully formed, and we suggest the development of peer-operated respite programs and other peer-operated programs in Washington communities. We agree the state hospital system is out of step with modern practice.
Peer respite is a proven alternative to restrictive institutions for persons in crisis. They are designed to help persons who need wellness and recovery-affirming care. Peer respites are located throughout the U.S., and research on their success prompted the creation of the Community Peer Respites Planning Council in Seattle to explore the development of one.
The state has laid the groundwork for peer services. Hundreds of state-certified peer counselors and recovery coaches who are themselves in recovery provide valuable services throughout the behavioral health-care system.
Peer respites and other needed peer-operated services should be part of the solution to raising quality of life. We owe it to patients who are currently held in state psychiatric hospitals and desperately want a better path to recovery.
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Laura Van Tosh, Seattle, Community Peer Respites Planning Council