A refuge from forced treatment

Shoring up a hidden sanctuary
Its street address unpublished for safety, the “Runaway House” has been sheltering Berliners from involuntary psychiatric treatment for twenty-five years. It is a place which “offers homeless people or those at acute risk of homelessness in a crisis the opportunity to withdraw from the psychiatric system and to take their lives into their own hands again.”

This peer-run crisis respite home also offers individual case assistance, counseling, and peer groups. It was established by the nonprofit Association of Protection Against Psychiatric Violence e.V. and its projects are governed by psychiatric survivors; the board of directors of the Association consists of “ex-users” and ex-residents of the Runaway House.

The Runaway House’s physical structure is in a critical state, the steps up to the door broken after several incidents of burst water pipes and the terrace slowly but steadily slumping. Since the start of the pandemic, the staff at this round-the-clock facility have not had the capacity to deal with repairs while caring for residents and fighting to maintain operational funding.

A COVID-relief microgrant from Open Excellence will make these urgent repairs at Runaway House possible and allow this place of safety and healing to continue meeting the needs of those who shelter there.


Small grants with a big impact
Thanks to the commitment and generosity of our donors, Open Excellence has been able to award several competitive microgrants targeting our five priority areas for 2021: COVID-19 relief to providers of peer or voluntary mental health services; decolonizing, racism and inequality in mental health diagnosis and care; addressing industry influence in mental health; the social determinants of mental health; and advocacy and human rights. Though small, these grants will support critical infrastructure at peer service organizations, document and share innovations in care and support early career and peer researchers. (Grant applications are currently accepted by invitation only.)


Runaway House Origins
A ‘runaway house’ is a refuge for people who want to avoid psychiatric treatment or who are looking for an alternative to conventional psychiatric treatment. The first “Wegloophuizen” was established in the 1970s in the Netherlands.

In 1996, with the donation of a house, the Association of Protection Against Psychiatric Violence e.V. in Germany was able to open the Weglaufhaus “Villa Stöckle”. The facility is now a two-story villa somewhere on the outskirts of Berlin with a large garden, where up to 13 people can live and a team of almost 10 people works 24 hours a day. Counseling and supportive community are offered to residents without coercion.



Grants like this one are made possible by donors of Open Excellence (the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care) like you. Become a monthly sustaining donor today to support the revolution in mental health care.


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