24-hour mental health crisis alternative opens on Union Avenue
Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experiences a mental health challenge in a given year, according to the National Institutes of Health. In MetroWest Massachusetts, adults experiencing mental health crisis have a new choice of where to turn for help: The Living Room at 284 Union Avenue, Framingham, a Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership grant-funded program of human services provider, Advocates.
Framingham Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer and members of the community attended an open house on Thursday, September 26, for the Living Room program—a 24-hour crisis alternative to emergency department visits and hospitalization for adults 18 years of age and older.
“I see this as one more asset in our community to help our young people find themselves,” said Mayor Spicer. “Over the years, living here in Framingham, I have watched many facilities come into the community that serve a tremendous need for all of our families. I thank you all for being here to share in this celebration of opening yet one more jewel that will help our young people in the city of Framingham.”
No referral is necessary to visit the comfortable, home-like location, which is staffed entirely by trained, certified peer specialists whose expertise includes their lived experience in mental health recovery.
The Living Room creates an interaction that is entirely voluntary, and focused on respect, mutuality, and trust. Peer specialists don’t administer medications or take clinical notes. Instead they use their expertise and personal stories to inspire hope and demonstrate that recovery is possible for everyone.
“In the short time since it opened, the Living Room has had 55 visits from 25 unique individuals,” reported Diane Gould, Advocates president and CEO. “They have come feeling stressed, disconnected from their communities and lacking hope for the future. They have reported high levels of satisfaction, and tell us they have found compassionate support, an alternative to going to the hospital, and a place to rest.”
While most of the visitors to The Living Room were from Framingham, some came from as far as Worcester and Watertown.
“There is still a resistance to seek help for mental health challenges, especially among diverse populations” says Keith Scott, VP for peer support and self-advocacy. “Many people experience crises, but think they just have to live with it. The Living Room model presents a more welcoming setting that reduces the fear and stigma that often surrounds these issues.”
To illustrate Scott’s point, visitors to The Living Room responded:
- 68% don’t feel mentally and emotionally well
- 65% don’t feel confident I can handle life’s stress
- 58% don’t have meaningful daily activities
- 55% don’t feel connected to my community
- 55% don’t feel hopeful about my future
“If you haven’t experienced some of those challenges, I guarantee you know someone who feels like that right now,” Scott declared. “Help is out there. Help is here.”