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Resource: Living Rooms
An alternative to emergency rooms for those in crisis or in need of help
Welcome! This post is part of the exclusive serialization of Cured: The Memoir.
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Living Rooms, sometimes called respite centers, offer an alternative to the emergency room for those experiencing suicidality, psychosis, and other psychiatric crises and concerns. Whereas an emergency room is loud and chaotic and often not the best place for those seeking care, Living Rooms are welcoming environments where people can first talk through what’s happening.
On one of my visits to the ER, victims of gunshot wounds were rolled in on gurneys, and people vomited behind triage-area-curtains while a security guard watched me to be sure I didn’t leave. This went on for hours. I felt shame and embarrassment, which no one needs to experience during a crisis. (None of this is the emergency rooms’ fault. They have other concerns.)
Living Rooms are better suited to handle the needs of someone in crisis. With the assistance of staff, they give people a chance to breathe and calm down to better determine what kind of care they need. Staff often include therapists, counselors, licensed clinicians, case managers, registered nurses, and Peer Support Specialists (sometimes called Recovery Support Specialists).
Each Living Room is different, but all are geared toward recovery. Those who receive care (typically called clients or members) are shown respect and given autonomy. Treatment focuses on empowerment and hope for the future.
Living rooms answer the lack of inpatient beds available. More than anything, it’s about getting clients safely back into the community rather than isolating them in an inpatient setting. Clients can return to the Living Room every day for support. That said, if a client is clearly in need of inpatient care, he/she/they will be referred to an emergency room as a last resort.
In addition to crisis intervention, Living Rooms provide
help with problem-solving;
referrals for emergency housing, healthcare, and nearby food pantries;
(usually) healthy refreshments; and
Living Rooms are free of charge, and you don’t need insurance
Some offer support in person and by phone
Some are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
I haven’t found a complete list of Living Rooms nationwide. (If you know of one, please post in the comments.) Google Living Room near me or Living Room [insert town, city, or state], and a list will come up.
Many Living Rooms are eighteen and over, but there are equivalent models of drop-in centers for teens, like Youth Era’s Drop Centers in Oregon, which also provides a place for teens to hang out.
Please let your friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and loved ones know about Living Rooms. They’re an incredible resource.
And for all the millionaires and billionaires out there (we know who you are), please help bring Living Rooms and drop-in centers to our towns and cities. We need them.
Read all available chapters of Cured.
Find more resources for mental health recovery.
Read ‘Pathological’ (HarperCollins) by Sarah Fay, the prequel to ‘Cured’