Participants: lack of hierarchy, accessibility of receiving care and positive experiences with peer specialists.

Parachute NYC was launched in 2012 to provide a “soft landing” for persons experiencing a psychiatric crisis. The program was funded through a federal grant from the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services and provided services through mobile teams and respite centers. Mental health professionals worked alongside peer specialists to offer network meetings to individuals and their natural supports who were 16 years of age or older, had received a diagnosis of a severe mental illness, and had at least one network member who agreed to participate in meetings.

All staff were trained in both Open Dialogue and Intentional Peer Support. Intentional Peer Support is an approach developed by and for peers and focuses on relationships and mutuality to foster hope and partnerships during times of crisis. The combination of Open Dialogue and peer support had never been attempted before Parachute. However, it is now being tested in a large randomized clinical trial in the UK.

Network meetings included mental health professionals and a peer specialist. The needs of the persons served determined the frequency, format, and content of the meetings. The sessions invited multiple perspectives in a non-hierarchical way to ensure that all voices were heard and dissonance respected.