Drop-In Peer Centers for Behavioral Health: An Exploding Trend

One of the reasons I am glad that I moved to Florida is that it led me to a peer run drop in center near my house called Rebel’s Drop In. In my small county, Broward, between Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, we have 5 of these centers. Peer run drop in centers average 5 per state, see the links below to find one near you. 

Mindfulness, OA, NAMI Connection Peer-to-Peer, and a 14-year running Schizophrenics Anonymous meeting are there.  I learned to make jewelry and took new and improved pieces to Etsy, Holiday Gifts and my own wardrobe.  They have Peer Mentoring there, free of charge, to help you reach goals you may have forgotten about in crisis or not.  I have a Peer Mentor, who is someone who has been in my shoes, psychiatrically, and we get together to go over my goals on a variety of fronts. One of the most challenging for me is to ‘widen my social circle.” I’m making progress.

Does it sound too good to be true? No, it’s not and it’s an exploding, well-researched trend. So who picks up the tab?  The programs are subsidized by grants from the state, who always want a list of printed names and signatures, times and dates, so when you go there, make sure you sign the list. Every signature helps them get grants so they can expand and maintain their offerings.

These places are usually in a building owned by a local hospital for outpatient or continuing behavioral care in different tracks called IOP (Intense Outpatient Treatment paid for by insurance and Medicare/Medicaid). Then, after the patients leave, the aroma of coffee fills the air, the colored crayons come out, and food from Memorial regional Hospital arrives to feed those who have little or no sustenance in the grand room.  I’ve eaten it often and it’s always balanced. 

In addition to the grand room, where painting, crafts, socializing, and jewelry is done, there are perhaps six private rooms holding various self-help/support meetings until 7:30PM. (Bipolar Support, Emotions Anonymous, Depression Support, Life Skills are just a few). On the weekends, since there is no IOP in session, the hours of the center are bit different.  In the words of Deanne O’Brien, who overcame her own mental health nightmare, (which is one prerequisite for Peer Mentors and Supervisors) “No one is too sick to attend Rebel’s Drop In.” I really believe that.

I’m on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr communicating with people with mental illness. Many have never heard of these drop in centers.  My friends and I go once or twice a week, drink coffee, bring donuts and gossip. We never know when we’ll be in-patient next, and it’s good to see all the faces of our illness. We are so grateful that the late Ann Rebel’s family gave a charitable endowment to Memorial Regional Hospital, for the purpose of continuing mental health care, Peer Mentoring, and WRAP planning (Wellness Recovery, Action Plan). 

If you are curious to see if any of these sorts of arts-oriented facilities exist in your city, county or in a town near you, try these links: 

  • www.cdsdirectory.org/database/view_all_listings.php (if link doesn’t open try copy/pasting into your browser)
  • http://www.power2U.org/consumerrun-statewide.html

 

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