Following successful alternative policing programs in Denver and Newark, Charlotte, North Carolina is adopting their own resource for those in a mental health crisis. The new Retreat @ the Plaza, run by Promise Resource Network, is a peer-run alternative to psychiatric hospitalization for those experiencing a mental health crisis.
Peer-run means the facility is entirely run by those who have experienced mental illness, psychiatric hospitalizations, homelessness, incarceration, or substance use. It is designed to be a voluntary alternative for those who are without physical injury who would otherwise be admitted to a psychiatric facility by an emergency room.
Susan Hart, who experienced being involuntarily held in a psychiatric facility 20 years ago now helps run the center. “You’re still part of the community and not on lockdown. In this space, you can feel the warmth, the encouragement, the safety,” she told North Carolina Health News.
The respite house costs $111 per guest, per day, which is far lower than the cost of a state-run psychiatric facility ($1,300 per day). Guests can stay at the center for free for up to ten days and have access to one-on-one peer support 24/7 as well as all of the Promise Resource Network’s self-support classes.
Several city, county, and state law enforcement officials have voiced support for the program. Involuntary psychiatric holds have increased exponentially over the last decade at a much higher rate than population growth. Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden said, “Somebody finally brought the people that can really tell the story. Those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution.”