Connecting with local mental health, wellness resources

There's a lot more to modern public libraries than books and technology. Our motto at Niagara Falls Public Library is, "We power community!" Which is why we're always working to identify community needs that we can find a way to help address.

A big one is the need for access to mental health and wellness resources and services in Niagara. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue in any given year, with 50 per cent of the population having experienced one by age 40. Even if you're not directly affected, chances are someone you know someone who is.

The good news is that there are a number of different services available for people experiencing mental health issues.

These include CMHA, Distress Centre Niagara, Pathstone Mental Health, Family Mental Health Support Network of Niagara, COAST (Crisis Outreach and Support Team Niagara), CASON (Community Addiction Services Niagara), Niagara Region Mental Health, Quest Community Health Centre, Niagara Falls Community Health Centre and others I've probably missed.

In December, Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates pushed for and got more funding from Queen's Park for mental health services, which will hopefully mean easier, wider access for Niagarans who need them.

So where does the library fit into all of this? One of our goals is to serve as the connective tissue of the community, putting people in touch with resources and services they may not be aware of or know how to access. To start, ask a librarian and they should be able to help you find contact information for any of the mental health organizations listed above.

For people who are not in crisis but struggle with mental issues, Niagara Falls Public Library is starting an ongoing series of free programs that offer an opportunity to hear from and speak with mental health professionals from our community.

On Saturday at our community centre library, psychologist Dr. Jen Rouse of CBT Niagara will offer a session on self-care, sharing tips on checking in with yourself, creating balance and identifying strategies to help you feel your best.

Family Mental Health Support Network Facilitator Darcy Patrick already visited us on Feb. 9, sharing tips on how to change negative thinking from his book "Creative Writing for the Mind, Body and Soul," but he'll be back for a full course on writing as a therapeutic tool Tuesdays, April 23 and 30 and May 7 and 14 at 6 p.m. at our Victoria Avenue branch, so visit or call to register today.

Mental health issues are out in the open and being talked about in a way they never have been before. Drop by your public library and join the conversation.

Greg Janssen is a community development and programming librarian with Niagara Falls Public Library.

Library Notes


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