Available Until 7/28/2027

Serving Mental Health Clients in Your Library


For more information or to schedule this course, please contact Brooke Ballantyne Scott <brooke.scott@fraserhealth.ca>.

Serving mental health clients in the library can be a daunting experience. Issues of fear and uncertainty, stigma, and assumptions are often in the forefront of these interactions. This face-to face course’s overall goal is to improve these interactions and give library staff members the knowledge and tools to approach interactions with all library patrons with confidence. This session will provide an overview of common mental disorders and their associated behaviours, a background on health literacy issues in mental health, and guidance on how to cope (as individuals and as a work team) with common behaviours displayed in certain mental illnesses. There will also be discussion around levels of information inquiry and need in the health reference interview, and an introduction to the plethora of resources available for mental health clients, their friends, and their family members.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will learn about common mental disorders and their associated behaviours, health literacy issues in mental health, information inquiry and need in the health reference interview.
  • Participants will reflect on their own experiences and ideas about mental illness, and how this ties into media and popular culture portrayals of mental illness.
  • Participants will work in groups to put the above new knowledge to use to brainstorm plans and guidelines to put in place for patron services and expectations at their library.
  • Participants will gain a toolbox of resources for their library in terms of helping patrons with mental health reference questions, and in terms of helping their work team come together and support each other for patron services.


Introduction: about me and today’s schedule

Background: fear/uncertainty/stigma/assumptions and mental illness symptom overviews (lecture/discussion/demonstration/personal exercise)
•	Pop culture references for mental illness and libraries (show short video clips) 
o	Exercise – write down your worries, questions, assumptions
•	Discussion around media influences and other influences on stereotypes 
•	Overview lecture for basic understanding of MI symptoms 

Research aspects: health literacy and mental health literacy (lecture/discussion) 

•	Show two tandem diagrams with major points/issues in each type of literacy (use Irv Rootman’s work, Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health report) and then create connection lines where each can inform the other. 
•	Tie in levels of information inquiry and need 


How to respond: coping with common behaviours (lecture/discussion/group activity)
•	Specific guidance for hallucinations and delusions
•	Specific guidance from CMHA (I noticed, I need…)
•	How to respond as a work team
o	Exercise – break into groups of 3 (ideally 1 librarian, 1 tech, 1 manager) and come up with a plan for your work team (would you create general guidelines, would there be different expectations for different members of the team, would you get training) – get teams to report back to the group.
11:30am-12:00pm Resources: library staff training and mental health reference resources (lecture/demonstration) • CMHA – BC division (include equivalent for conference location) • Best free online resources for mental health (specific categories: crisis, friends and family, ongoing support…refer back to levels of inquiry/need) • Book lists • Show short video clip to finish session


Facility Requirements

PC with PowerPoint, internet access, and speakers. Seating arrangements preferable several small tables to group attendees 3-4 people per table.

MLA CE Credits
: 3