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Mental Health and the Role of Libraries

mental health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The observance was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives and to celebrate recovery from mental illness.

Libraries play a critical and often overlooked role in helping to address the mental health challenges in our society. Many libraries employ social services teams to lead these efforts and connect patrons to critical services. Seattle Public Library (SPL) is one such library.

SPL hosted an online panel discussion on May 13 focused on mental health and the role of libraries. Moderated by Seattle Times engagement reporter Taylor Blatchford, the panel included Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., author of “Lost and Broken: My Journey Back from Chronic Pain and Crippling Anxiety,” Ly Huynh, community resource specialist for SPL’s social services team, and Juan Rubio, SPL’s digital media and learning program manager and project director for Caring About Teen Mental Health. The event was co-hosted with the Seattle Public Library Foundation.

“Social services may seem like a departure from traditional library services, the work our social services team does illustrates how we respond to our patrons’ information and referral needs,” said Tom Fay, chief librarian at SPL, at the start of the panel. “Our library staff make connections for all kinds of people in every kind of life situation. The library is the biggest referral agency in the city, so connecting people to community resources is absolutely in our wheelhouse.”

Watch the panel in full below.

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Image: Rosy / Bad Homburg / Germany from Pixabay

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