Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Press Release

Peer-run Respite Grants Awarded, New Locations Added

Five centers will be available to all state residents

By - Jun 29th, 2021 09:32 am

Wisconsin’s peer-run respite program for people experiencing increased stress or symptoms related to mental health and substance use challenges is adding locations in La Crosse and Milwaukee under new grants awarded by the Department of Health Services (DHS).

“Peer-run respites are staffed by Wisconsinites with lived experience who can use their unique set of mental health and substance use recovery experiences and skills training to support others facing similar challenges,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Their work empowers people to find their own paths to wellness, and we at DHS are proud to support Wisconsin’s peer-respite centers.”

The premise behind peer-run respites is that emergency department visits and psychiatric hospital admissions can be avoided if more supportive relationships are available for people approaching a mental health or substance use crisis. Unlike peer recovery centers, peer-run respites are not drop-in centers. Guests need to call ahead to arrange a stay of up to one week. During a stay, guests benefit from the support of peers—people who have experienced mental health and substance use challenges and who are trained to help others with similar issues—and activities that promote wellness like arts, exercise, and meditation. There are no required activities for guests. Guests are free to come and go during their stay for school, work, family, and other responsibilities. Since 2015, over 2,000 people have stayed at one of the peer-run respites funded by DHS.

Wisconsin’s peer-run respites also operate warmlines that provide by phone the same hope-filled, healing connections with staff offered in-person at each center. Over 12,000 warmline calls were answered last year.

When Lighthouse in La Crosse operated by a group called Lighthouse opens within the next year and Parachute House in Milwaukee operated by Our Space begins serving people outside of Milwaukee County July 1, 2021, Wisconsin will have five peer-run respites available to all state residents, including Iris Place in Appleton operated by NAMI Fox Valley, which opened in 2015; Monarch House in Menominee operated by Wisconsin Milkweed Alliance, which opened in 2018; and Solstice House in Madison operated by SOAR Case Management Services, which opened in 2016. Each of these five organizations have received grants of nearly $442,000 for the next state fiscal year that are renewable for four more years.

A sixth DHS-funded peer-run respite—The R&R House in Pewaukee operated by Mental Health America of Wisconsin that opened in 2021—serves veterans. It is funded separately from the peer-run respites open to all state residents.

The grants for the peer-run respites in Appleton, Madison, and Menominee are backed by state funding, with the funding for the locations in La Crosse and Milwaukee coming from Wisconsin’s share of the federal Community Mental Health Services Block Grant.

Visit the peer-run respite page on the DHS website for the contact information for Wisconsin’s peer-run respites.

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