Bilingual mental health facility 'Living Room' opens in Summit to provide holistic approach

SUMMIT, Ill. (WLS) -- A fully bilingual "living room" that provides a holistic approach to mental health and wellness is now open in suburban Summit.

Sean O'Conner lived with depression and anxiety for years and had nowhere to turn for help until three years ago when he walked into Living Room.

"When I went to the Living Room, I met with a person who identified with a similar story that I had," said O'Conner, peer support counselor.

Peer support is the concept behind the Living Rooms of National Alliance on Mental Illness.

"The Living Room is a national model that acts as an alternative to an emergency room for someone that's feeling an increase in their mental health symptoms," said Kimberly Knake, executive director at NAMI Metro Suburban.

While there are two other Cook County suburban locations, the first bilingual Living room opened Thursday. At no cost, anyone who needs help can call or walk in. They meet with a peer counselor in a space that is designed to be warm and calm.

"I appreciated someone can look you in the eye and say, 'I've been there before. I've been in pain. Let me tell you how to get you out of it. I'll show you the ropes,'" O'Conner said.

Peer counselors and clinicians work on lining up the right therapist and support groups. The unique approach was so successful for O'Conner, he has now become a peer counselor.

NAMI Metro Suburban chose its location in Summit to address a growing need in the Latinx community.

"When we are going through these stages, these depressive moments or having anxiety, you know, we're kind of are told by our family to tough it out," said Julio Lopez, Living Room clinician.

Lopez hopes Living Rooms can help change the stigma of mental illness in the Latinx community.

The first Living Room opened in Illinois five years ago. They have become so successful, the State of Illinois is investing in 25 locations throughout the state.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.