Second Story is a six-bed house which serves as a respite and a voluntary opportunity for individuals to learn to use relationships to move out of old roles and patterns. Staffed by “peers,” (people with lived experience of mood swings, consuming fears, voices, visions, . . .) who have learned to be with some discomfort, the household provides an opportunity to experience what change feels like, and to learn new responses through relationships with each other. With the expectation that everyone is capable and inherently knows what they need, both paid staff and guests create a space for those qualities to surface. Along with creating a home, we share stories to connect and understand each other’s experiences, gently challenging ourselves to listen to the untold story. The hope is not to rebuild a culture of illness, but instead generate some sparkling moments of connection and trust, lessons which will spill over into the future.
Second Story is not a substitute for psychiatric hospitalization. Those who are drawn to the program develop, with staff, ahead of time, a plan for dealing with feelings and behaviors that in the past have led to inpatient stays. The first contact with staff is the beginning of using different views, working together to figure out what might be different. The summary of this meeting is kept on file until a time comes when a potential guest wants to stay at Second Story. The plan is updated and used as a guide to get good results from the time together at Second Story.
Second Story offers a maximum stay of 13 days in a home environment, and provides guests with opportunities to identify and plan for changes they feel will benefit them once they have returned home. All former guests are offered ongoing telephone support, and are welcome to visit when they need encouragement from their peers and Second Story staff. Program participants also have opportunities to enroll in Intentional Peer Support training and learn to be of assistance to others.
The start-up has been funded by a 2010 Federal Transformation award and is open to Santa Cruz County Mental Health clients 18 and over, who have housing, and have completed a proactive interview or first contact interview. For more information, call Second Story at (831) 466-0967