#5 An Alternative Way

Quite often, the go-to mental healthcare treatment is hospitalization/medication. This form of treatment may be the norm, but this doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. One organization called the Soteria House based in Burlington, Vermont, provides another option for people who are experiencing first time psychosis, as they refer to it, and don’t want to go onto medication. It is a group home that people usually stay at for months at a time. One of the members on the development team discussed the program and its philosophy on Vermont Edition. The program mainly tries to provide help to those experiencing mental health difficulties for the first time. It moves away from medication and focuses more on peer support and helping the person through a peer relationship as opposed to a doctor or nurse. This program has really helped a lot of people and offers stability and an alternative resource for them.

Another resource I found located in Vermont are two programs called Another Way and the Wellness Co-op. They are both talked about on a website created by the programs in which people who have participated in the programs talk about their experiences briefly and share a meaningful photograph. They are also based on the foundation of peer support and collaboration with others and veering away from medication and hospitalization.

Looking more at the medication norm in the world today, I found myself rather surprised to hear this issue brought up in the newest season of Family Guy. In the episode, the day care provider of Stevie, a baby, discusses her worry of him having ADHD with Stevie’s mother Lois. This show often mocks or exaggerates stereotypes or current social issues in the world today. When the provider tells Lois about her concern, it is phrased,”Kids who are difficult or different need medication.” This is precisely the problem with the outlook on medication for mental health challenges. It is the go-to when in fact this might not be the best option for everyone and not everyone may know about the alternative options so that is why I believe the awareness of these options needs to be increased.

I believe that what unites people are similar ideas, beliefs and opinions on a given topic. It is the agreement on a topic that creates the bond and unity among two or more people. It is when we disagree or dislike another’s opinion on something we may feel strongly about that dissociates people.

My most pressing questions related to my topic are:

  • How do the people in the alternative programs view the stigma around getting any care?
  • How do people who have received both hospitalization and alternative programs view stigma and additionally which care worked better for them?
  • Why is hospitalization and medication still the primary option for those dealing with mental health difficulties?
  • I would like to explore language and vocabulary related to mental health challenges and care, looking at the use and misuse of language and the labeling of people experiencing challenges and receiving care


“Different.” Vermont MHTG Photovoice Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.


Rosen, Jane Lindholm Sam Gale. “Burlington’s Soteria House: An Alternate Model For Mental Health Treatment.” Vermont Public Radio. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.


Image by Michael Kent

Grace Widelitz

2 Responses to “#5 An Alternative Way

  • Courtney Krahn
    7 years ago

    Hi Grace,

    I can really feel your topic narrowing down in an organic way. You have been discussing alternative treatment for mental health related issues, but in this blog your focus feels especially strong and determined to me.

    In regard to medication or hospitalization, you write, “This form of treatment may be the norm, but this doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.” You also point out that medication seems like the go-to solution for a variety of situations in our culture where people appear to be “different” than the “norm.” I love the connection you made with Family Guy, and your description of the show — “This show often mocks or exaggerates stereotypes or current social issues in the world today” — was spot on. You are recognizing where your issue exists (in it’s many forms) in our culture.

    Your questions are excellent, too. As your reader, I see two possible avenues for further exploration blossoming:

    1. You write, “…that is why I believe the awareness of these options needs to be increased.” Your focus could be an analysis of alternative mental health treatment options and raising awareness of these options.

    2. You write, “I would like to explore language and vocabulary related to mental health challenges and care, looking at the use and misuse of language and the labeling of people experiencing challenges and receiving care.” This is a different but equally as compelling angle for your topic. When we chatted atop Mt. Philo on Saturday, I found myself stumbling over the correct language to use as I asked you questions about your research. Exploring developing terminology and an analysis of the risks/detriments of embracing dated/inappropriate language could be an extremely useful tool for the community.

    It was nice to see you this past weekend.

  • Hi Grace,
    This looks great. I love the idea of branching out and finding more effective and comfortable means of mental treatment. Incidentally, the idea of peer support and personal connection is also shown to be very successful in changing people’s ideas of denigrating stereotypes. So I think we can conclude that personal connection increases peoples wellbeing, both in knowledge and mental health. Is this what you are saying at the end? That it is important to unite people to promote their wellbeing?
    If so, I have a question. What if people don’t agree on something crucial in life when attempting to support each other? What do you think is a good way of getting around this?
    Thanks for a great post! I love the ideas!
    See you later,

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