For the past six years in the western suburbs, those 18 and older seeking the mental health counseling of a peer during times of anxiety and stress could drop in and talk to a trained specialist at one of the three Living Rooms staffed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Metro Suburban in LaGrange, Summit and Broadview.

Later this fall, NAMI will debut a similar Living Room for teenagers at a storefront at 9045 Monroe Ave., the former home of Focus Om Yoga in the Eight Corners business district.

Kimberly Knake, executive director of the Oak Park-based NAMI Metro Suburban, said the agency has signed a lease for the space and is presently finalizing plans for the space.

The Teen Living Room will operate much like their adult counterparts, with certified recovery support specialists available seven days a week to talk to any teenager seeking support from a peer.

Pillars Community Health is NAMI’s clinical partner and can offer multiple services to help teens understand their mental health issues and help them and their families develop skills to manage those issues.

“Our certified support specialists work with clinicians on a wide range of services,” Knake said.

Although NAMI is based in Oak Park, it serves Brookfield and residents have access to all of NAMI’s programs and services.

Last winter, the Brookfield Parks and Recreation staff participated in mental health first aid training.

“We met with them again in early summer and I learned that through grant funding Brookfield has access to all of their programs and training free of cost,” said Brookfield Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari.

Brookfield Parks and Rec will host two mental health first aid training sessions, one for adults and one for those 17-under this fall. The 17-under training course will be split into two sessions of four hours each on Oct. 5 and 6. A full eight-hour adult training session will be held Nov. 12.

More information is available by calling Brookfield Parks and Rec at 708-485-1474 or emailing Ferrari at sferrari@brookfieldil.gov. You can also register for programs via a link on the Parks and Recreation Department page at brookfieldil.gov.

According to Ferrari, the Teen Living Room slated to open around mid-November in Brookfield is the first of its kind in the nation, specifically serving those between the ages of 12 and 17.

In a piece on the NAMI Illinois website highlighting the Metro Suburban affiliate, Knake described them as “often a person’s first connection to mental health care.”

“This makes us a real alternative to the ER, which can be a frightening way to begin your mental health journey,” Knake told NAMI Illinois. “The living room approach makes a real difference in communities where mental health stigma may be especially high. For so many people, simply taking that first step is difficult. We want them to know they’re in the right place.”

To find out more about NAMI Metro Suburban’s Living Room initiative for adults, you can visit online at namimetsub.org/our-programs/recovery-programs/the-living-room.