Read for Mental Health!

Local Libraries Partner With MiraVista to Promote Mental Health and Wellness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and MiraVista Behavioral Health Center is partnering with the Holyoke Public Library, as well as Springfield’s City Libraries to encourage awareness and conversations on the topic of mental wellness.

Displays of books and other materials on the topic of emotional wellness are planned at the libraries to promote understanding around mental health and to encourage such collaborations for libraries to become better known resources on the topic.

“Our staff will be putting up displays featuring the many facets of mental health in all of our nine library locations,” said Jean M. Canosa Albano, Assistant Director for Public Services at the Springfield City Library. “We hope that patrons will clean out the displays. We will be ready to restock them. We also will welcome requests for any topics we may have missed.”

She added that “during the pandemic, mental health needs came sharply into focus as did the disparities in access to help among many members of the community.”

“Libraries provide a free way to start understanding mental health issues, through books, magazines, and databases like Gale Health and Wellness,” she said. “Libraries are also non-judgmental places to get referrals to other organizations that can provide help to those who seek it.”

She noted as well that materials will be available “for people to browse through, read in a comfortable place, and check out to use at home if they’d like” and that resources “in a variety of languages to suit even more people’s needs” will be included where possible.

“By partnering with MiraVista, we can draw more attention to recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month,” she said. “Because people can freely browse the materials available at the library, with no questions asked, readers can feel free to pick up anything they would like. Putting books on easy to view displays will allow people to find information that can prove vital.”

Her comments were echoed by Maria G. Pagan, Holyoke Public Library Director.

“Public libraries serve as community centers, gathering places for people across neighborhoods, and not just a place for books,” said María G. Pagán, Holyoke Public Library Director. “The Public Library Association, for example, formed the Social Worker Task Force to identify best practices for addressing the social service needs of library patrons.”

Pagán added she welcomes the partnership with MiraVista and potentially others to further educate library staff through programs on mental health, present public lectures and provide better service to patrons.

“In the last five years public libraries have seen an increasing volume of patrons who are experiencing homelessness, substance use and mental illness,” Pagán said. “Because of this, library staff need to be better equipped to provide excellent service to all patrons. As librarians, we are trained to educate and provide information, but we are not trained in social work. As library employees we also need to learn mental health first aid.”

She said that having partners “with mental health expertise will help better train and equip our staff to better serve our community.”

“We are looking at our collection to include more updated information regarding mental health and substance use conditions,” said Pagán of preparation for the month. “The hope is that by having educational materials about mental health and substance use exposed the effort will eventually encourage people to learn about these conditions, recognize them and seek any needed assistance.”

Kimberley Lee, Chief of Creative Strategy and Development at MiraVista called libraries “easily accessible to people of all ages, backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses” and a partnership with them is a natural fit in MiraVista’s efforts to promote Mental Health Awareness Month.

“By promoting mental health education, libraries can help dispel myths, misconceptions, and negative attitudes towards mental illness, and create a supportive and inclusive environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking information and help without fear of judgment,” Lee said. “Libraries are hubs for lifelong learning, providing resources and opportunities for personal growth and development. Mental health education can be viewed as a form of lifelong learning, as it equips individuals with knowledge and skills to promote mental well-being throughout their lives.”

MiraVista Behavioral Health Center opened in April of 2021 on the grounds of the former Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, Mass. MiraVista offers psychiatric care services for both adults and adolescents, as well as an array of recovery rehabilitation programs including outpatient services such as substance use individual and group counseling, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), court-ordered services, and outpatient Medication Supported Recovery and Massachusetts Impaired Driving programs.

Through the lens of Care Reimagined, MiraVista cares for thousands of individuals from across New England. MiraVista’s purpose is to provide effective, inspiring care for those challenged by mental health and substance use so they are empowered to lead fulfilling lives.

To reach MiraVista, please call 413-701-2600.