The living room provides respite from emotional distress


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — You can’t pay your rent. Your boyfriend left you. Or, perhaps, as the pandemic drags on, you’ve lost hope that life will return to normal.

No matter what makes you anxious, depressed or scared, Melissa Pappas is here to tell you that there is no problem too small to bring to the salon.

The Living Room, recently opened in Champaign by mental and behavioral health agency Rosecrance, is intended to be a safe and quiet respite for people in emotional distress, reports The News-Gazette.


Located inside the Rosecrance building in Champaign, it lives up to its name – deliberately comfortable and non-clinical.

It’s furnished with sofas, a coffee table, shelves and a soft-light lamp – and it’s staffed by two professionals who are there to listen and, when needed, help refer people to community services. who can help them after they leave.

It’s also free. A grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration covers the costs.

Rosecrance already has a well-established Living Room program in Winnebago County and opened the Champaign site in mid-January, said Pappas, a licensed clinical professional counselor who oversees the program.

For some people, all it takes is just someone to listen to them, she says.

“They come in and are treated with compassion,” she said.

For some struggling with a mental health or addiction issue, coming to The Living Room can be the difficult first step to seeking help, Pappas said.

“I like to think of it as putting a toe in the water,” she said.

The Living Room is not a crisis center, Pappas said, but it is meant to resolve issues before people feel such anxiety, depression or despair that they turn to the hospital emergencies.

Dr. Kurt Bloomstrand, regional medical director of EMS for OSF HealthCare, said emergency rooms at OSF hospitals in Urbana and Danville see a fair share of patients in mental health crisis. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve seen even more.

The pandemic has both exacerbated mental health issues people already had and created new ones as people have experienced more stress, isolation and fear, he said.

“All of these factors are coming to a boiling point,” Bloomstrand said.

Although hospitals are equipped to provide help to these patients, mental health cases can take longer than medical emergencies, and resources are limited for inpatient and outpatient mental health care, a- he declared. The living room could therefore be a game-changer. to help defuse problems before they become crises.

Any opportunity to increase mental health resources in the community is “very beneficial,” he said.

The Salon is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

People arriving at the Walnut Street building are asked to ring the doorbell on the south side of the building and log in, Pappas said. They will also be asked to log out and answer a question before leaving: do they feel better than when they entered?

The average stay was about 90 minutes, Pappas said.

For those who were reluctant to pass, she said, “I would say there is no silly problem. There is no small problem. There is no judgment of problems. We are here to find solutions.

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