In the United States, involuntary psychiatric holds have increased exponentially over the last decade at a much higher rate than population growth. An alternate program run by peers is being adopted in North Carolina to help those experiencing a mental health crisis. These facilities are run entirely by those who have experienced mental illness, psychiatric hospitalizations, incarceration, homelessness and substance abuse. The program which costs one-tenth of state-run facilities, offers free stay for ten days with one-to-one peer support. “You’re still part of the community and not on lockdown. In this space, you can feel the warmth, the encouragement, the safety,” says Susan Hart who has experienced psychiatric hospitalization and who now helps run one of the respite centers.

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