On the SLIF Blog this week librarian Philippa Smith talks about Mental Health and Wellbeing Collection Development in Clackmannanshire School Libraries. The project was supported by the School Library Improvement Fund in 2017.
The main aim of this project was to develop a collection of books and resources about mental health and wellbeing for schools in Clackmannanshire. This involved every secondary school library in Clackmannanshire and the creation of three age appropriate collections for circulation between each of the local authority’s primary clusters.
The project aims to help pupils understand and manage their own mental health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The library setting allows discreet access to this collection in a neutral, safe and welcoming environment.
Alongside my colleague school librarian Pauline Robertson, we consulted with teaching and guidance staff, pupils, health & wellbeing officers and local mental health organisations before developing collections of books and resources on mental health and wellbeing.
At Alloa Academy the collection was initially promoted in part by providing a preview of new resources at an LGBT group meeting. Attended by pupils, a health and wellbeing officer and the school librarian, the meeting was very positive with pupils being very receptive to the new resources. They expressed delight at being able to find and read books that related to their own personal situations and/or feelings.
The final collection was displayed at a school open evening in June 2018 and shown to staff, parents and carers. The collection was then further promoted via Personal and Social Education class visits and, in particular, to the new S1 intake in September 2018.
Meanwhile Lornshill Academy’s Health and Wellbeing Collection was also launched in June 2018. Pupil members of the school’s Health & Wellbeing Committee attended the launch event and spoke of the importance of the collection in terms of the wide range of mental health and wellbeing areas it covers.
They also viewed it as an excellent source of information for pupils who were too embarrassed, unable to speak to someone about their problems or who had no one they could talk to. Classes were scheduled until the end of term to visit the library and browse the collection. Again the collection was promoted to the new S1 intake later that year and made available for borrowing thereafter.
Soon after Alva Academy’s collection and the three collections for our primary clusters were launched in November 2018 and January 2019. We continue to promote the collections to school pupils and the wider school community, with the project benefiting three secondary schools and 18 primary schools in Clackmannanshire.
Through the project school libraries and primary schools can now provide access to information, support and advice on a large number of mental health and wellbeing issues such as diversity, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and other stress related experiences like social media trolling, bullying and exams.
It has been very rewarding to be able to provide these resources to pupils and see the difference it has made.