my response to a recent government consultation:
"We need alternative ways of working with people in mental distress.
Peer led crisis alternatives, non-medical, non-clinical, places where
people can talk about their problems and be listened to. A place on the
high street in towns where folk could drop by, drop in, have a cuppa,
pick up leaflets, join a group without having to get a referral, fill in
forms, give their life story, be labelled.
A place where people with
lived experience of mental distress are paid or do voluntary work, help
others the same as themselves, to discuss whatever and to discover ways
of coping or of overcoming. No-one in uniform or with badges but a
welcoming atmosphere and a feeling of acceptance for who you are.
The alternative place could also have ordinary things going on, not
mental health specific but more about keeping well, something like a
community centre but more holistic, mind and body stuff. Offering
respite, a day's break or an overnight or two, away from the usual, to
relieve stress and have opportunities to talk and be quiet. Churches do
stuff like this, retreats, that people benefit from. But I'm thinking
more of a mind and body resource, an alternative to the (bio)medical
It wouldn't be called a crisis centre but it would have a
respite element within it. It would have to be voluntary sector run, to
incorporate paid and voluntary staff, allowing for a variety of input
and skills. I've seen this work well in other settings and have often
done this type of work, sometimes being the only paid person working
with volunteers who I've recruited, trained, supported and supervised."