The limitations of hospital Emergency Departments to address mental health crises are well known, even to hospital administrators and personnel. According to Mona Shattell, associate professor of nursing at DePaul University, “Most people with emotional distress come from a chaotic environment and need a safe calm space to receive proper attention and treatment.” Emergency Departments often are not the best place for an individual who may be experiencing a psychiatric emergency. In addition, the environment of the ER – loud, crowded, and fast-paced – can often exacerbate symptoms.
Living Room Description
The Living Room is a peer-led alternative to the traditional ER for those with mental illness crises. The Living Room is a comfortable, non-clinical setting that provided the guest a safe and calming atmosphere where he or she can talk with a peer counselor. The guest is first assessed for safety and is asked for preliminary information. The guest is then paired up with a peer counselor, who can talk the guest through the immediate crisis, offering empathetic listening, practical solutions, and additional resources.
- Savings of ~90% versus an ER visit ($3,000 vs. $300)
- Diverting individuals from the ER
- Results have shown reduced revolving door hospital visits
- Peer involvement leads to other areas of support, support groups, social activities
- Employment opportunities for individuals with mental illness