Below is the abstract for this study on peer respites:

Objective: A peer respite is a voluntary, short-term, overnight program that provides community-based mutual support to people experiencing a mental health crisis. This qualitative study of guest experiences at 1 peer respite examines its role in fostering recovery and wellbeing.

Method: Conventional content analysis of interviews with 20 peer respite guests resulted in a thematic framework containing 7 “clusters” of themes with related subthemes.

Results: The following themes emerged from the analysis and include both positive and negative experiences: belongingness, confidence and hope, crisis self-management, experiencing mutual support, freedom and responsibility, linking to community, and conflict and confrontation. Some guests endorsed the peer respite as a temporary break from stressful life situations, a homelike space for mutual support and community, and a preferred alternative to traditional crisis services. Others struggled with the unstructured environment and expectations for shared responsibility and self-reliance.

Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Peer respites strengthen self-reliance and social connectedness and offer a viable alternative to traditional crisis services for some people some of the time. The results suggest potential “key ingredients” for peer respites, including a homelike environment, voluntary and self-determined supports, and peer support staff who possess the capacity for developing healing and genuine connections with guests while also promoting shared responsibility and self-reliance. Future research should further develop this theory of change and establish peer respite fidelity criteria based on program elements that seem to contribute to positive outcomes.

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