Library Mental Help Week

The week of October 27, is Geek Mental Help Week, an event that raises awareness about mental health in the web industry through conversations, magazines, blogs, and podcasts. As a public librarian, I’ve seen first hand the impact of poor support for mental health can have on a city’s population and its library patrons, but I don’t think we talk enough about how mental health affects library workers, either directly or indirectly. I’d like to change that.

I propose that we start a Librar*1 Mental Help Week. Sometime in November (or December?) library-related publications, blogs, podcasts would devote time to discuss mental health in the profession. Here’s how you can help:

  • Help plan the event
  • Write about mental health issues on your own blog
  • Create a website that will collect related posts (I’m willing to do this via Github Pages, but I could use a designer)
  • Devote an episode of your podcast to mental health in the profession
  • Organize a local event to talk about mental health issues
  • Publish articles about mental health in professional journals or on their websites

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, and try as I might, I can’t always leave those emotions outside the library when I report to work. I’ve tried to be stoic, to power through the bad days by keeping my head down and not interacting, but that only adds to the workplace tension I create by being in the office. Stoicism and evasion aren’t healthy coping strategies. They aren’t sustainable, and I fail, often.

Over time I’ve learned that I’m not the only one with a problem, society has a problem with mental illness, and wishing it away or pretending it doesn’t exist only makes the problem worse. Like Paul Boag writes in Smashing Magazine we are not machines, and we are not alone. Together we can work to change the stigma of mental health in the library profession.

  1. I intentionally use the wildcard because the event won’t only focus on the health of credentialed librarians. All library workers are impacted by mental health in the workplace.