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Alternatives to Institutions: Creating A Safe Haven

I found this article about a psychiatric hospital that has a disco/club night once a month. While the article has many flaws, stereotypes, and stigmatizations of people with mental health concerns (trigger warning: the article talks of institutionalization, psychiatric medications, psychiatric diagnoses, abuse, seclusion, and stigma), I came away from reading it with another thought.

This made me think of the possibilities for safe havens that were against the mainstream—never forcing psychiatric drugs on people, but prescribing them only to folks that think it is right for them and fully, entirely, informing them of the risks, short-, and long-term side effects. A safe haven where people can go if they feel unsafe to wind down, get a little change in their environment, and recharge using harm reduction practices and utilizing other ways to restore our “sanity”—like dancing, music, art, crafts, reading, writing, peer support, skillshares, workshops—whatever people feel helps them the most….it doesn’t have to be psych meds.

What ideas would you have for such a place? What would it look like to you? What kind of experience would you like to have at such a safe haven if you were to have the opportunity to visit one?                     -MO



One thought on “Alternatives to Institutions: Creating A Safe Haven

  1. I heard of this one idea that is apparently happening in Sweden. I was so moved I cried actually. I can only imagine the kind of healing a person could experience…
    “The Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden — a program which, in this era of multi-drug cocktails and psychiatric diagnoses-for-life, helps people recover from psychosis without medication.

    The organization, backed by over twenty years of experience, places people who have been failed by traditional psychiatry in host families — predominately farm families in the Swedish countryside — as a start for a whole new life journey.

    Host families are chosen not for any psychiatric expertise, rather, for their compassion, stability, and desire to give back. People live with these families for upwards of a year or two and become an integral part of a functioning family system. Staff members offer clients intensive psychotherapy and provide host families with intensive supervision.

    The Family Care Foundation eschews the use of diagnosis, works within a framework of striving to help people come safely off psychiatric medication, and provides their services, which operate within the context of Swedish socialized medicine, for free.”

    Sounds simply humane to me. Funny how obviously inhumane and cruel a lot of what goes on in our mental health system sounds when you juxtapose it with a program like that. It’s actually not funny…it’s sad and infuriating.

    Posted by Ashley | June 13, 2012, 9:10 AM

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