SUMMARY: Many people are stuck cycling in and out of the mental health system with a lack of real choices and alternatives. The result is ineffective care at high costs. People going through crisis are frequently traumatized by this care and the loss of power that goes with it. Consequently, they often experience worse outcomes including increased suicide risk and shortened lifespans. The risk of harm is even greater for people who identify as LGBTQIA+. Peer respites are an opportunity to offer support guided by the wisdom gained from people who’ve ’been there’, and to develop respites that limit harmful power imbalances, and focus on health, healing, and personal growth.
S.1238/H.3602, ‘An Act establishing peer-run respite centers throughout the Commonwealth’ was introduced in January, 2023 through the combined efforts of the Wildflower Alliance’s Peer Respite Director, Ephraim Akiva, advocate, Thomas Brown, and attorneys from the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee including Sarah Yousuf. It is sponsored by Senator Jo Comerford and Representatives Lindsay Sabadosa and Smitty Pignatelli. It would establish at least one peer respite per each of 14 counties in Massachusetts including the first two LGBTIQA+ peer respites in the world (one of them to be based in Western Massachusetts).
CURRENT STATUS: The Bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. The Committee is chaired by Senators John Velis and Julian Cyr, and Representatives Adrian Madarao and Michelle DuBois. Other members can be viewed here. We encourage Massachusetts residents to reach out to members of the committee to express their support. The hearing has now been scheduled for Monday, October 2 beginning at 1pm. You can sign up to testify in person or virtually by clicking HERE! The deadline to register to testify is Thursday, September 28 at 5pm. Written testimony can be submitted (in addition to or instead of live testimony) by e-mailing House Chair, Adrian.Madaro@mahouse.gov. and Senate Chair, John.Velis@masenate.gov, as well as to Committee staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Peer Respite Bill Info Sheet
- Peer Respite Bill Info Sheet – Alternate Format
- Peer Respite Memo from the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee
- Peer Respite Q&A
- Peer Respite Research
- World Health Organization (WHO) document on exemplary crisis alternatives including peer respite (see page 6)
- Article – LGBTQIA+ Peer Respites: The Personal is Political
- Peer Respite Handbook
NOTE: You will sometimes see this Bill referred to as SD.1413/HD.1612. These refer to the docket numbers the Bill was given in the Senate and House before it was officially assigned a Bill number.