English Libraries Support Mental Health
Suffolk libraries’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Information Service (MHIS) supports several areas of the Suffolk county council’s joint health and wellbeing strategy. This includes aiding prevention of ill health and mental ill health by encouraging Suffolk residents to become more active, and lead healthier lives with a better understanding of the links between physical and mental health.
There are currently many activities the public can attend in Suffolk Libraries which fit into this agenda, including: Top Time (activities for older people), New Age Kurling (low impact indoor sport), adult colouring sessions, and many parent/carer and child activities. The MHIS aims to further advertise these groups as being beneficial for wellbeing and also to develop and deliver new groups, events and activities to support the strategy.
A local sports coach contacted the service after finding the MHIS details on a leaflet in the library. They had concerns about a team player, who appeared depressed, was self-harming, taking drugs and was homeless. The MHIS coordinator was able to signpost a local GP, drug/alcohol treatment services, and support for depression and self-harm. Within a week the coach had encouraged the player to visit their GP, they had seen a GP link worker, visited a housing provider for emergency accommodation and had an appointment with Turning Point (providing drug/alcohol treatment).
Library staff were able to help reduce isolation for an elderly lady, by teaching her how to use her IPad. She is now able to email friends and Skype her daughter in China and son in Devon.
A customer who had been caring for her husband for 8 years completed a Warm Handover through her local library, after struggling with his rapidly deteriorating condition. Within a few days she was in contact with Suffolk Family Carers and Age UK, who were able to offer her support and advice during a very difficult time.
A customer attended an Action for Happiness workshop and contacted the service afterwards to let us know as a result they will be looking into attending a local Mental Health support course (Headspace). After suffering with depression and anxiety, not being able to get work, family bereavements and serious illness the event helped the individual to find other means of support and encouraged them to look at their anxiety around working. They were very motivated by the event and keen to return to similar events in the future within the library.
A member of the public emailed the MHIS coordinator, expressing concerns for the wellbeing and life of a friend and asking for advice on how/where to get help from. The email was raised with our safeguarding lead and general advice was given, as well as recommending emergency services if the person felt a genuine and immediate concern for the safety of their friend. They responded thanking us for the help and stating it had been very helpful.