The pandemic challenged Aimee Quicke’s support system, but she found help at Rhonda’s House, a rural peer respite facility in Iowa, U.S. that is “a bed-and-breakfast facility for emotional distress.” Offering a homelike, nurturing environment for people in mental health crisis who don’t need immediate medical attention, patients are treated like guests. Having made repeated trips to emergency rooms, hospitals, behavioral health facilities, and psychiatric lockdowns over three decades, Quicke appreciated speaking with peers with “lived experience”. She worked on her self-esteem and gained better coping skills, and respite staffers connected her with community resources close to her home on the other side of the state. Professionals say respite facilities can help address a national mental health crisis that accelerated during the pandemic. Most of the 42 community-based respite programs across 14 states are nonprofits, funded by a mixture of local, state and federal grants. A 2015 study found that people who sought respite were 70% less likely to use inpatient emergency services than non-respite users.

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