Soteria Alaska opening in the fall—Staff needed

THIS POST IS FROM 2008. Soteria Alaska has actually closed down since opening.

If I was younger and single and done with my withdrawal, I’d be there in a minute.

Info on the original Soteria House run by Loren Mosher here. Key is that drugs are used very minimally and generally extremely short term. People recover at rates of 80 – 90% with minimal and loving interventions.

Two random assignment studies of the Soteria model and its modification for long-term system clients reveal that roughly 85% to 90% of acute. and long-term clients deemed in need of acute hospitalization can be returned to the community without use of conventional hospital treatment. Soteria, designed as a drugfree treatment environment, was as successful as anti-psychotic drug treatment in reducing psychotic symptoms in 6 weeks.

Soteria-Alaska is a home where people who are experiencing symptoms that are associated with diagnoses of mental illness can live while they begin their recovery process. The primary services are peer support, homelike environment/milieu, inclusion in the community. Families are encouraged to participate at the desire of the resident. The home will welcome the sharing of diverse cultural traditions as determined by the residents in the home. Soteria-Alaska is a place for people who might otherwise go to the hospital if an alternative was not available or who have been in the hospital for a brief period of time, but would benefit from the Soteria environment. It is not a permanent residence. It is a 24 hour staffed home that is located in Anchorage, but accepts residents from all of Alaska. Soteria values choice, self determination, the power of peer support and respect for all people.

Soteria-Alaska is recruiting for a House Manager and eight to ten Residential Assistants.

The House Manager will oversee day to day operations, supervise staff under the direction of the Executive Director and with the Executive Director set the tone of the environment. People who understand and exemplify the Soteria philosophy are encouraged to apply. Individuals with personal experience with recovery and people with licensure or eligible for licensure in Alaska will be strongly considered for the House Manager position.

Residential Assistants will work under the supervision of the House Manager and the Executive Director. They will provide support to individuals who are experiencing acute symptoms such as hearing voices, fear, anxiety, and inability to sleep. They will participate with residents in the operation of the house such as shopping, cooking and cleaning. Residential Assistants will be compassionate and respectful and will honor personal choice of individuals while acknowledging the needs of the community. Individuals with personal experience with recovery will be strongly considered for Residential Assistant positions.

Volunteers and Student Interns are welcome to join the Soteria House team. Volunteers and Students will work under the supervision of the House Manager and the Executive Director and will work along side Residential Assistants in providing support to residents. Soteria-Alaska has signed a memorandum of Agreement with the Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and welcomes participation from individuals seeking training and experience who are clients of DVR.
Soteria has some limited, affordable, temporary housing available to people who are relocating to Anchorage to work in Soteria House.

Contact: Susan Musante, Executive Director Soteria-Alaska, Inc. and CHOICES, Inc.
susan@soteria-alaska.com (907)333-4343

This is from the Soteria-Alaska info website:

Soteria-Alaska

Purpose: To allow people with acute and long term symptoms of mental illness to recover in a non-coercive, home-like environment, with choice about medication, using the development of personal relationships as the primary intervention. Using this approach the trajectory of chronic disease, disability and costly hospitalizations can be averted for many people.

Vision
: Alaskans who are diagnosed with serious mental illness will have access to a full range of environments and services that change their trajectory from one of chronic disability to health and community inclusion. Soteria-Alaska will be one piece of the behavioral health system that supports this vision.

Values:

1. Non-coercive
2. Recovery-oriented
3. Individual choice
4. Easy access to appealing behavioral health services
5. Informed self-determination
6. Flexibility

Mission: Soteria-Alaska provides a safe, non-coercive, home-like environment where people in Alaska who are diagnosed with serious mental illness recover from acute and long term symptoms and avert the trajectory of chronic disability and poverty. We are an evidence-based, cost-effective alternative to hospitalization that is responsive to individual needs, desires and cultural values.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

23 Responses

  1. The people who profit 20 billion dollars a year in antipsychotics will not like it.
    Bigger than porn.

    antipsychotics
    http://clinpsyc.blogspot.com/2008/06/antipsychotics-global-buckets-of-money.html

    porn
    http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/Story?id=132370&page=1
    “Pornography has grown into a $10 billion business — bigger than the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined — and some of the nation’s best-known corporations are quietly sharing the profits.”

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  2. Doe

    Looks really cool! (Although it did occur to me that Alaska would be not the most ideal place for mental health recovery simply because of the lack of sunlight! But I’m sure the love and respect more than makes up for it!)

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  3. Sloopy Cowbell

    There has to be a conspiracy at work that is keeping projects like Soteria wilfully starved of funds.

    It’s not even as if these projects are costly to run since many of the project workers offer their time voluntarily.

    It seems that the assaults on these Soteria homes are orchestrated from several angles. A Soteria-based project in Berkshire England, for example, found itself in the cross-hairs of the local authority which was desperate to find any spurious reason to shut them down.

    The authority first reckoned the place had to shut because the mains water supply wasn’t safe, and then it was the electrical wiring that wasn’t safe, and then the fire-safety provisions, and then the staffing levels, etcetera ad infinitum.

    Where is the money allocated to mental health rehabilitation actually being spent? Gobbled up by an ever burgeoning drugs bill, and to pay the mindless and compassion-less foot soldiers who staff the forced drugging units? What a waste!

    It would be interesting to see what is done in countries where the mental health sector isn’t strangled by the financial interests of the Western psychopharmaceutical industry.

    How are things done in Cuba, Iran, and Zimbabwe, for example? Maybe the Soteria methods are the norm for those nations..

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  4. Sloopy Cowbell

    I really should read Whitaker’s book. Though I can imagine I would find it too frustrating.

    It is so obvious that the “modern” way of dealing with severe mental distress is absurd.

    To wrench someone in crisis from their familiar surroundings and from their traditional networks of support, and to incarcerate them using jailers who masquerade as nurses is ridiculous.

    And then the harm really begins, delivered by force down the end of a needle..

    No wonder psychiatric patients become permanently sick.

    What started out as a psycho-spiritual awakening that could, and should have been celebrated, is twisted by psychiatry into something deeply sinister and feared by society, and all for profit.

    And the cost to us all is immeasurable.

    Not only is there a vast human toll from the carnage of shattered lives, but there is also the sickening wastage of lost productivity from those whose souls have been stolen by psychiatry.

    Psychiatry really should hang its head in shame.

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  5. You’re right, Gianna, Jim Gottstein is one of the initiators of this project.

    Doe: Alaska isn’t that bad. They also have an alternative community there, started by psych survivors: Ionia Inc., article here. If it wasn’t for that I have a horse, and would need a green card, and and and, I would have packed my bags a long time ago.

    They ran a Soteria-like project, although not half as “radical” as the real thing in regard to drugs, at the largest one of the Danish psych hospitals, some years ago. It worked. The funding was taken away after a few months, after not even half the time, the project initially had been planned to last… User organizations have asked for drug free treatment projects, just on an experimental basis to start with, again and again: No. No way. Conspiracy? I’d say so. On several levels.

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  6. Sally

    Soteria is definitely the way to go and Whitaker is great, still I have to pitch the book I love on this topic: Bedlam: Greed, Profiteering, and Fraud in a Mental Health System Gone Crazy
    by Joe Sharkey http://www.enotes.com/bedlam-salem/bedlam

    Sharkey is an award winning journalist who doesn’t write that much about mental health, but this book is great, to me particularly because it explores the relationship between for profit drug and alcohol rehab centers and the overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. Here in the US in the heyday of drug and alcohol rehab centers, addiction was considered a disease by social security and thus medicaid would pay for “rehab.” When addiction was taken off of the list of addictions in the early 90’s, these highly profitable centers couldn’t get reimbursement for “rehab” any more and so they just reclassified the vast majority of their “patients” as bipolar with drug addiction becoming a “symptom.”

    Sorry for the soapbox. This is exciting. Unfortunately mental health “parity” may make it harder for places like Soteria to flourish as, like we’ve all pointed out, they’re not the money makers that the “institutions” are and of course so many families don’t want their relatives well but instead want them locked away and controlled. Still, they’re cost effective, and perhaps with more aware parents out there, like Stephany, things can move in the right direction.

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  7. Sally: “…and of course so many families don’t want their relatives well but instead want them locked away and controlled.”

    Exactly what I mean when I call it a conspiracy on several levels. It’s not only the drug companies, who want to make money. It’s society as a whole, represented by these families, that wants to keep on with business as usual, undisturbed.

    If you look at Ionia, the community is widely self-supporting, the people there are very much aware of what a healthy life style looks like on the one hand, and of our consumer society and how it does not work (for them) on the other. A somewhat disturbing awareness for a society that feeds on people’s unawareness.

    I see this awareness with many people who have managed to escape the total (mind) control of the system – of self-destructive corporational consumer society, one might say. – I see it clearly with most of you who comment here, for instance. – They’re not exactly a model of a “good” consumer/producer. So, let’s at least keep as many as possible “good” consumers (of psych drugs), even if it means, they can’t be “good” producers (because of the drugs’ side effects), and let’s keep their political, environmental, social, etc. awareness under control… Soteria does the opposite. It empowers and helps people to become aware and equal members of society. It gives these people a (disturbing) voice in society.

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  8. And the great thing about a Soteria setting is there are so many ways we can volunteer our time, which of course lends to less funding needed.

    The people I see when I visit my daughter are so much in need of love. They are well-taken care of, but of course more people and hugs is always healing!

    Also, another place to remember that we need is one like Jayme’s Wellness Center. Places people can go heal, be with others and avoid hospitals at all costs.

    One thing I can never get over, and is part of my own grieving process, is how on earth doctors wanted to just lock my daughter up and warehouse her at an institution.

    How can people do that? She would be there if I had not have moved mountains for her, and I say that in all seriousness. She was only 19, and they had the audacity to say she had no hope.

    I call that doctor on a regular basis and let him know how much hope she has! (a gentle reminder to him that he was horrifically WRONG).

    Every day she is out at a Zoo or eating ice cream with me or petting her dog, is a day that doctor said would and could never happen.

    Soteria houses can happen too!

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  9. Sloopy, this is exactly it: “What started out as a psycho-spiritual awakening that could, and should have been celebrated, is twisted by psychiatry into something deeply sinister and feared by society, and all for profit.”

    I was doing fine with my own psychospiritual awakening — and understood it as such since most of it seemed in line with aboriginal traditions of spiritual rituals (some induced by psychotropics) where a young man* gains a distanced and critical perspective on himself and the people in his life, and learns what his path in life is — until a doctor convinced me my life would become hell if I didn’t take toxic chemicals to counteract hypothetical future ‘episodes.’ At least I still know what my path is, and when the drugs made me totally despondent, I still had that vision to pull me through instead of giving up entirely.

    (*I’m not aware of any that included girls… I’m thinking of the Americas/Australia in particular.)

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