A peer-run center in North Carolina offers alternative for psychiatric care

By Maura Barrett and PJ Tobia: For Complete Post, click here…

After Becky Bagley made plans to take her own life, involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility meant she submitted to a strip search before she spent days staring down white walls, isolated, feeling like a liability. 

She’s now on the peer support staff at the Retreat @ the Plaza, a peer-run respite in North Carolina designed to be an alternative to hospitalization for those experiencing mental health distress.  

The house-like setting is starkly different from the hospital. Water features and greenery adorn the outdoor patios, while guests can gather in the open kitchen or the sitting area filled with plush couches and chairs and inspirational prints hanging on the walls. The doors stay unlocked, and guests may come and go as they please.

In this space, Bagley is treated as an expert because of her experience of struggle, rather than a liability.  

“Here, you immediately come in and everything feels so intentional: the light, the sounds, the love,” Bagley said recently in an interview at the respite. “When they listen, they listen to understand. We’re not trying to diagnose or label you — it’s up to you. It’s empowering. I just know this place is exactly what I needed at that time.”  

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