The mission of the corporation is to provide a peer-operated, peer staffed holistic approach to mental wellness, discovery and recovery for Vermonters who are experiencing a mental health crisis. This alternative will provide a safe, mutually supportive, non-judgmental, educational, and self-empowering environment. Alyssum will afford individuals the opportunity to engage in the principles of wellness, discovery, recovery and peer support so as to emerge from crisis with wisdom and the personal responsibility skills for living well.
Alyssum offers a stay of up to two weeks, based on an individual’s need and acuity, for a crisis respite in a peaceful, home-like setting. Our small house has two private bedrooms, and is centrally located for easy access just north of the village of Rochester. Whole food home cooking, as well as a variety of soothing and healing activities, are included in the stay. “It’s beautiful outside, you can go out with the guests, and there’s lots to do. I think that guests enjoy not feeling like this is a space they’re stuck in—they have freedom to move. Conversations and sharing happen...”
Alyssum is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization funded by a grant from the State of Vermont Department of Mental Health, and is free to all Vermont residents.
The community-based environment of Alyssum, which is safe and non-judgmental for guests and staff alike, allows for a supportive re-connecting process. We offer a voluntary opportunity to experience a non-judgmental, accepting and validating environment in which there is opportunity to form connections and relationships with peers. “Sharing and caring with mutual respect and the ability to share real feelings makes this all work, [as well as] being able to give hugs, be equals and having time and space to build up trust as peers and in a safe environment.”
All Alyssum's peer staff have lived experience of crisis, trauma and mental and emotional challenges, and are open in sharing their stories of healing and transformation. We believe mental and emotional crisis can be a turning point, which can bring growth and positive change, and our mission is to support that change.
Our staff members are aware of trauma-based responses and coping mechanisms, and are trained to create opportunities and support for guests to overcome these reactions in a safe and embracing environment. Alyssum's non-hierarchal environment allows guests and staff to experience learning and growth together. “The overall atmosphere here is really important—guests can feel it the minute they walk in.”
Alyssum staff may also share their working knowledge of alternative healing methods, including yoga, nature, mindfulness, gardening, meditation, body energy healing and art projects.“The nature of peer support encourages everyone involved to examine their thoughts and experiences and present them in a compassionate, genuine way. Peers have experienced emotional struggles in a very real way... I think guests appreciate this. I also appreciate the interactions that I've had with guests and peer specialists that ask me to step up a level as a person in a way that is both supportive and true to my experience.”