News Article Details

Longmont Library launches Wellbeing Bags to spark conversations about mental health

Daily Times-Call - 7/26/2018

July 26--Starting Thursday, Longmont Public Library patrons will be able to check out Wellbeing Bags, chock full of books, movies, music and magazine articles designed to spark conversations about mental health.

The new Wellbeing Bags are a partnership between the Library and the city's Supporting Action for Mental Health initiative.

There is one Wellbeing Bag available for adults to checkout for two weeks and one for families to check out for two weeks.

The adult Wellbeing Bag contains movies like "Silver Linings Playbook" and DVDs that go over relaxation and meditation techniques as well as books such as "Depression for Dummies."

The family bag contains movies such as "Inside Out," a children's book titled "Please Explain Anxiety to Me," John Greene's "Turtles All The Way Down" and a 2015 Elle magazine article " Demi Lovato: 'I Knew At A Young Age I Had A Problem.'"

Library Executive Director Nancy Kerr said that, particularly for the family bag, staff and mental health initiative committee members made sure to include media that would engage teens.

"Like the John Greene book, we're not asking people to read something they may find dry or dull on the subject," Kerr said. "These are bestselling teen authors."

Each bag also includes a conversation guide from the mental health initiative designed to get people thinking about ways in which those issues can affect an individual person and the people around them.

Julie Phillips, the initiative's coordinator, said while it also has held large community conversations about mental health, the team also wanted to find a way to let people discuss mental health on their own terms.

"The whole idea has been to make those smaller intimate, more casual conversations that do happen around a kitchen table or coffee shop happen, to encourage someone to have their own reflection on the topic and not make it these big, facilitated conversations, which were important when the group first started," Phillips said.

The Wellbeing Bags fall under the umbrella of the Library's Experience Bags, which also includes bags that relate to various subjects like dogs or chocolate and Destination Bags, which contain media related to a particular place.

Library Marketing and Communication Manager Teresa Myers said that the seed for Wellbeing Bags idea started within the library under former executive director Judith Anderson. Librarians said they would like bags on topics as varied as backyard chickens, but when Phillips came to the library staff and floated the idea of bags centered around a discussion on mental health, they morphed into the Wellbeing Bags.

Kerr said that she hopes that people who check out the bags will see that there's a wealth of available information about mental health.

"I think the idea of having such a variety in the bags, because different things appeal to different people and many people may be surprised to find books or movies that they are already familiar with in a mental health bag," she said.

Phillips added that the bags can be beneficial to breaking down the stigma around discussing mental health, not just for people dealing with their own mental health, but for their family and friends.

"Hopefully these folks can identify with the stories, or as family members and friends, identify with the people in these stories and say 'There's someone else who is experiencing what I am experiencing,'" she said.

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci

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