Retreat @ the Plaza opened in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, in early August. It is designed to be an alternative to hospitalization for people experiencing mental health distress. It’s the first peer-run respite house in North Carolina, meaning it’s completely staffed by people who have experienced mental illness, psychiatric hospitalizations, homelessness, incarceration, substance use or a combination of these. The peer-run facility is free to participants and is designed to be a completely voluntary alternative for people who would otherwise seek mental health crisis care through the emergency room and possibly be involuntarily committed to a hospital. “I think this would have been a better healing place. You’re still part of the community and not on lockdown. In this space, you can feel the warmth, the encouragement, the safety,” said Susan Hart, who works at Retreat @ the Plaza.

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