NAMI DuPage offers help for the holidays with 'Living Room' program

In the 1965 animated children's TV special "A Charlie Brown's Christmas," Charlie Brown says "I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel."

This time of year brings stress to many, whether it is trying to find the perfect gift or worrying about how to pay for it, visiting relatives, or just trying to balance holiday parties, kids' events, and work obligations.

If you find yourself in one of those categories, getting more sleep, eating and drinking a bit less and exercising more, setting a budget, and remembering that most people can't tell a Costco pie from a homemade one can go a long way in reducing our stress and increasing our happiness.

But for others, this season is often a trigger that magnifies isolation and sadness.

Trying to squeeze in two or three Christmas dinners with your parents and in-laws can be stressful, but not having any place to go or any one to be with, can be far worse.

If you would like to talk to someone because you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, or maybe you just "aren't yourself," NAMI DuPage offers a "Living Room" program from 3 to 8 p.m. on weekdays where guests (18 or older) can talk to peer counselors for free.

No appointment is necessary - just come to the NAMI DuPage offices at 115 N. County Farm Road in Wheaton.

For more information on the Living Room and other programs and services, visit or call (630) 752-0066.

NAMI DuPage uses a peer model of support and does not provide psychiatric services, medication, or therapy, but will assist guests in locating providers, if requested.

The Living Room is a peer-led alternative to the traditional emergency room for those with mental illness crises. The Living Room is a comfortable, nonclinical setting that provided the guest a safe and calming atmosphere where he or she can talk with a peer counselor. The guest is first assessed for safety and is asked for preliminary information. The guest is then paired up with a peer counselor, who can talk the guest through the immediate crisis, offering empathetic listening, practical solutions, and additional resources.

According to the NAMI DuPage website, the project's impact has included:

• A savings of about 90% versus an emergency room visit ($3,000 vs. $300);

• Diverting individuals from the emergency room;

• Results have shown reduced revolving door hospital visits;

• Peer involvement leads to other areas of support, support groups, social activities;

• Employment opportunities for individuals with mental illness.

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