Let's treat mental illness in your living room

A team of mental health experts think the emergency department just isn't the right place for treating emotional distress.

They'd rather address it in the living room.

A qualitative study from DePaul University School of Nursing researchers found that people in mental health crises are better served in alternative-recovery types of environments - those that resemble warm and inviting homes, not clinical, cold medical institutions.

The Living Room

Mona Shattell, co-author of the study, and her team set up a treatment center called The Living Room - an outpatient, voluntary program in the Chicago suburb of Skokie. The center is staffed with a licensed counselor, a registered nurse and trained peer counselors in a setting that resembles - well - a living room in someone's home.

"As researchers and community partners, we were interested in the individual experience of The Living Room," wrote the authors. "Participants in our study had experiences as either a person in emotional distress who went to an (emergency department) for help, or as a person who worked with persons in emotional distress in these settings."

The research team interviewed 18 participants who had spent time in The Living Room, where they were treated as "guests" who needed assistance in dealing with self-reported mental health diagnoses, ranging from depression to Asberger's syndrome.

Better than the ER

The study found that guests experienced The Living Room as a supportive, caring environment - which was a far cry from what patients said they had experienced in hospital emergency rooms.

Shattell elaborated:

Most patients who came to The Living Room stayed for a few hours, received treatment or help, and left. What makes the space unique is that it is staffed with peer counselors who have experienced mental health issues and are specifically trained to treat the patients, who have responded well to that type of care because they see that recovery is possible.

Guest reported being treated like "a fellow human being, not like a patient," and that the program was a judgment-free zone.

The study also shed light on how rare these types of treatment interventions are, and why they may be a viable option for people seeking help during an emotional crisis.

"Patients who were treated in The Living Room were able to successfully manage their emotional crises, which was less expensive, emotionally intensive or as intrusive as being treated in an emergency room," said Barbara Harris, assistant professor at DePaul's School of Nursing and another co-author of the study. "This doesn't mean that medical treatment is not needed, but sometimes, the emotional distress or crisis that results from the intersection of illness and life situations can be addressed without drastic medical intervention or hospitalization."

Shattell concluded that there is a need for more facilities like The Living Room to help people suffering from emotional distress.

"This study is vital to help raise awareness and to inform people suffering that there are other options when it comes to treating mental health," she said.

Source: DePaul University

More Articles

Understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (or, in other words, the physiological...

Scientists have been studying schizophrenia for a long time, trying to determine what...

It is estimated that nearly 1.2% of the population in the U.S. has schizophrenia. The disorder can vary in terms of severity and manageability,...

A diagnosis of schizophrenia can bring about a limitless number of changes...

An estimated 30% of people with schizophrenia have refractory schizophrenia, which means their...

More Articles

More Articles

Understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (or, in other words, the physiological...

Scientists have been studying schizophrenia for a long time, trying to determine what...

It is estimated that nearly 1.2% of the population in the U.S. has schizophrenia. The disorder can vary in terms of severity and manageability,...

A diagnosis of schizophrenia can bring about a limitless number of changes...

An estimated 30% of people with schizophrenia have refractory schizophrenia, which means their...

There are a number of talented musicians who have suffered from schizophrenia at some point in...

While most people can’t fathom purposely hurting themselves, self-injury is not uncommon with certain types of psychiatric disorders. Although it...

Although schizophrenia goes back several thousand years, this most serious of psychiatric disorders was not officially coined “schizophrenia”...

The neurotransmitter serotonin is known to influence a number of important brain functions, including perception, mood, sleep, appetite, cognition...

There are a number of different research methods used in psychology, but one of the most interesting to the layperson is the case study. Case...

The question of whether people with schizophrenia know they are ill is actually quite...

The term "schizophrenic break" refers to an episode of acute psychosis in someone with...

Creatine is a type of acid naturally manufactured by our liver, pancreas and kidneys. One of its primary roles in the body is to provide energy...

No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia, and there are a number of...

Acute schizophrenia is what most people think of when they think of schizophrenia: varying...