The Living Room: A Place for Support

A living room is a place where people feel comfortable, safe and relaxed. And that’s exactly what the creators of the new Memorial Behavioral Health Living Room are aiming for.

“Unfortunately, many people don’t know where or how to get the help they need for their mental health and well-being,” said Diana Knaebe, system administrator for Behavioral Health at Memorial Health System. “The Memorial Behavioral Health Living Room is designed to be a safe, supportive place where people can access that help.”

Often, individuals experiencing a mental-health crisis end up in a hospital emergency department. The “Living Room” concept was created as an alternative. It’s a homelike environment where people who need help or support with mental health issues, life stressors or other problems can go to get care from behavioral health professionals. Funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services helped make this service available to local residents.

“An emergency department is aimed at helping people with physical injuries,” Knaebe said. “Mental health isn’t the primary focus. It’s also a very stressful environment. In many cases, people who go to an emergency room for help with a mental-health crisis don’t get the most appropriate type of care for their situation.”

The Living Room model is aimed at providing emergency care specifically for mental health issues, Knaebe added. “This is a much different environment,” she said. “It’s calming, safe and peaceful, and our staff have the expertise needed to help.”

The Memorial Behavioral Health Living Room is located at 710 N. Eighth St. in Springfield. It’s free and open with no appointment needed from noon to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, for anyone over the age of 18.

“Our Living Room is staffed by three behavioral health professionals who have been trained as certified recovery support specialists,” Knaebe said. “They can help with crisis intervention and emotional support, and can connect you with community resources. They also provide follow-up services to make sure you continue to get the care you need.”

Light refreshments and internet access are provided for guests in this calming space. The staff are experienced in trauma-informed care and conscious of the need to create a physically and psychologically safe environment for individuals who have experienced trauma.

“This is a unique approach to crisis intervention, and it’s been very successful in other communities around the state,” Knaebe said. “We think it will be a great resource for the people of Springfield.”

For more information about the Memorial Behavioral Health Living Room, call 217-525-1064.

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