Peer-run respite home would help those in mental health, substance use crises

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Lake Superior South Shore is considering a house in Superior for the program.

person with clipboard and pen holds another seated person's arm
Participants at the peer respite program in Superior would stay up to seven days within a 60-day period at the home, which would be staffed 24 hours a day.
SeventyFour / Getty Images / iStockphoto

SUPERIOR — Work is underway to open a peer crisis respite home by the fall.

Chrissy Barnard, president of National Alliance on Mental Illness Lake Superior South Shore (formerly NAMI Douglas County), described it as a home run by peers for peers who are in a mental health or dual diagnosis (mental health and substance use) crisis.

Participants could stay up to seven days within a 60-day period at the home, which would be staffed 24 hours a day.

Events include trainings and support groups.

“People still go to work, still go to school, so they don’t have to worry about losing those parts of their life,” said Barnard, of Superior.

Staff would help them access options, such as working on a recovery plan or strength-based assessment. Information on local resources, from restaurants and bus schedules, to Alcoholics Anonymous, the warmline number and local mental health groups, would be located in each room. The program fits needs that have been identified for years and could result in significant savings in medical expenses.


A 2021 fact sheet by the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association found that Medicaid expenditures were an average of $2,138 lower per month and there were 2.9 fewer hospitalizations for peer respite guests than for those in the comparison group. In addition, 70% of respite guests were less likely to use emergency or hospital inpatient services.

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Chrissy Barnard.
Contributed / Studio One Photography

“It’s really an intermediate care that we don’t offer in our community,” Barnard said.

The closest peer respite home is located in Menomonie, she said.

NAMI Lake Superior South Shore is eyeing a house in Superior for the program. Grant funding is available for operations, Barnard said, once the building is secured.

She said options include tapping into American Rescue Plan Act funds the Superior City Council has allocated toward mental health funding or finding a donor who’s passionate about mental health willing to help with the purchase price.

“We could potentially name the house after them or something, because we don’t have a name yet,” Barnard said.

In addition to that, Barnard has held crisis response training for area law enforcement officers. She's also shared her story through the nonprofit investigative news outlet Wisconsin Watch and has been featured in the book "You Are Not Alone" by Dr. Ken Duckworth, which was released in September.

"I feel like I'm trying to share hope, because people don't realize that recovery is possible," Barnard said.


For more information, visit the NAMI - Lake Superior South Shore WI Facebook page , call 920-452-5152 or email or .

To get help

National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota: Statewide hotline, **CRISIS (**274747); 24/7 text line, text “MN” to 741741
Arrowhead Regional Crisis Line:Serves Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties and Bois Forte, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage bands; 24/7 hotline 844-772-4724
Aitkin County: Northern Pines Mental Health Center, 800-462-5525
Itasca County: Itasca County Crisis Response Team, 218-326-8565
Pine County: Canvas Health, 800-523-3333
Northern St. Louis County: Range Mental Health Center, 218-288-2100

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