There are many places that can be relied upon to provide quality mental health care; from a private therapist’s office to a community clinic or institute and many venues in between, the settings for care are many. But the good old library probably does not immediately come to mind when thinking about mental health. Nevertheless, the town of Lancashire in the UK has recently launched a program designed to equip public libraries with information and support that can aid clients in self-help and in seeking professional treatment. The program will include stocking of scores of books and other materials on psychology, specific mental health concerns, self-improvement, and other topics relevant to enjoying a more prosperous inner life. Clients may be “prescribed” certain texts or films by their general practice physicians.
A major component of the plan will involve the mental health training of all library staff, a move that is hoped to make the option of seeking guidance and information more attractive and convenient. Librarians will learn how to understand mental health concerns and to approach and assist those who may be in search of answers about themselves and their lives. Of course, this focus on self-education and help with mental health has its critics, some of which may suggest that leaving clients to pursue answers on their own may discourage them from seeking psychotherapy or other forms of professional help. But with access to professional care constituting one of the industry’s most significant issues, the ability to find guidance in a library, and to potentially find valuable information in a book, DVD, or other piece of media may prove life-changing for many.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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