May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Suicide Hotlines:

1-800-273-TALK (8255) or TTY 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

Red Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454 

Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 


This is a serious post.

When we think of mental illness, what comes to mind? We’ve all looked at our incident reports. We’ve internally rolled our eyes when that patron has come in. But this isn’t just about the patrons. Yes, some of them do have mental illnesses but they aren’t the illness, they have they illness. We can’t call them crazy. We can’t make them the joke. We need to take the issue seriously. Look around you, the chances are one of your coworkers has battled with or is currently battling depression or anxiety. Maybe you have experience with a mental illness?

Student Council

 Reference:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Mental Health Myths and Facts. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/

Changing the way libraries work with mental illness

When I was researching information for this post, I came across this article written by Josh Berk, director of Bethlehem Area Public Library. It examines the “homeless problem” his library faced. He realized one of the biggest issues he had was that his staff did not know how to properly react around this demographic, many of whom had some sort of mental illness, whether it was paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc. Rather than call the police or kick the patron out, Berk went to several trainings with a few of his employees where he learned to recognize some of the symptoms of these illnesses. He also learned that many of these illnesses did not make these individuals harmful or violent. He requested these trainings be taught to all of his staff. His library system is now working together with community health agencies.

This article changed my thinking. I’ve seen periodic trainings offered on how to interact with individuals with disabilities but never ones offered on those with mental illnesses yet its such a prevalent issue in every community. Imagine how our perspectives might change, how our services might change…

The Huffington Post recently wrote about how the San Francisco Public Library is revolutionizing its work its homeless population by offering mental health services.

Their program began when SFPL hired a full time psychiatric social worker, the first library in the nation to do so. Their social worker, Leah Esguerra, worked to assist the approximately 750 homeless individual who visited SFPL daily. A total of 150 have received permanent housing while around 800 have received mental health and social services. Moreover, the library has begun to employ the formerly homeless after they complete a a 12 week vocational rehabilitation program.

This is such a revolutionary and commendable program for a library system to take on. It certainly is not doable or necessary in every system but there are many lessons that can be learned here, especially about humanity and how a the help of others can take someone a long way. 

Suicide Hotlines:

1-800-273-TALK (8255) or TTY 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

Red Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454 

Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 

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