Guyton Colantuono is the executive director of Project Return Peer Support Network, a position he has held since 2014. He has spent more than 25 years working in the field of mental health and has led a multitude of programs including those addressing homeless outreach and shelter, transition-aged youth and employment development.
He has an unwavering belief that “people are people first” and a label is not a destiny. His lived experience as a survivor of homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness has fueled his passion for a whole-person approach throughout his career.
Particular emphasis will be placed on the unique offerings of a Peer Respite Home, to which he applies the metaphor of a “bed and breakfast for someone experiencing a mental health crisis.” He and his team of peers oversee Hacienda of Hope in Long Beach, one of two peer respites in all of Los Angeles County, and one of five in the state of California.
We’ll talk about how peer respites naturally adopt a posture of radical hospitality in welcoming guests, and how this is a stunningly less expensive bed to provide than those associated with psychiatric hospitalization or the county jail. Peer respite is the ultimate in trauma-informed care, and we’ll make a case for increasing the availability of these beds as a resource for providing care for people living with a mental illness not only in Los Angeles County, but throughout the state.
'Peer respite' homes aim to be alternative to psychiatric wards - Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
The Effectiveness of a Peer-Staffed Crisis Respite Program as an Alternative to Hospitalization | Psychiatric Services (psychiatryonline.org)
Impact of the 2nd Story Peer Respite Program on Use of Inpatient and Emergency Services | Psychiatric Services (psychiatryonline.org)
Report from the Auditor of the State of California. Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. California Has Not Ensured That Individuals with Serious Mental Illness Receive Adequate Ongoing Care. July 2020