Yes, we are thinking a lot about Mental Health in our library system. I have worked with our new Teen Mental Health Educator on some programming for outreach to our high schools. As part of outreach, we did give an (In)visible Self workshop. On top of using the zine guide for the activity, we incorporated making their own zine as one of the possibilities, using it as a sort of journal, or creative writing platform. Many of the students created art zines, and the Invisible Self worship became more of a therapeutic wellness activity. Lots of cool zines came out of that workshop.
I think allowing for freedom of expression, time for reflection, and providing space for those things goes a long way toward supporting the mental health of our teen patrons.
That is great your library system has a dedicated staff member to help with mental health, @JacquiV! I agree with your statement on freedom of expression and providing space - many times teens, and people in general, do not feel like they are being heard. Providing them with the opportunity to talk about their mental health in a non judgmental way, can open the door to greater conversations and openness to help in the long run.
Here are some things workshop participants had to say:
Trisha P. feels that having families play together is valuable, especially in a structured way with the goal of learning about their emotions and the impact it might play on their behavior.
Andrea E. pointed out that the two years of isolation may have increased our mental health issues and that it is important to get back into community interactions with one another.
On a similar note, Lissette G. noted pandemic isolation has seemed to have an impact on storytime audiences. Now it appears little kids tend to be either frightened of the larger crowds or so overjoyed beings around others.
Several others agreed that it is important to communicate with families that libraries offer quiet spaces when things might be getting too overstimulating for children. The conversation concluded on this point and the idea that libraries need to be more flexible with staff and patrons with all these factors considered.