Pickering Public Library (PPL) recently met with Durham Mental Health Services staff and V.A.S.E. (Voices Against Stigma Everywhere) members to consult about ways they can best serve their clients who experience mental health issues.
“Every year our Linkage Committee reaches out to different segments of the population to see how we are doing and to ensure we are providing a welcoming and inclusive environment,” says Kathy Williams, PPL Director of Public Services. “In previous years we have reached out to parents, LGBTQ2S, New Canadians, seniors … many different groups. I can translate that information into action on the staff side and our board representative reports back to the whole board, which represents the community as whole and gives us direction. We report our findings back to the board to make sure we are in alignment with what the community wants.”
PPL Board Representative Mary K. Anderson adds, “We want to make sure we are doing things in the best way possible. These sessions give us feedback, reinforce the way we are handling things when we are on the right track and also give us information about how we can offer relevant programming and improve the way in which we deal with our clients.”
“We are seeing an increase in homelessness and mental health issues,” Kathy says. “Of course, most times we would never know whether a given person experiences mental health issues unless they disclose, but we want to build trusting and helpful relationships with all of our service users. To establish a safe and supportive environment, we can model a calm, welcoming approach to all.”
V.A.S.E. (Voices Against Stigma Everywhere) member Ian was among those consulted. “I thought this was a great opportunity to share knowledge and to open up a connection between V.A.S.E., DMHS and Pickering Public Library. I can see the benefit for all parties.”
V.A.S.E. member Renee adds, “It was nice to be consulted by the library. I feel that if you want to know the experiences of someone with lived mental health experiences then you need to speak with someone with mental health experiences. Mental illness affects people everywhere so the more places that try to become more aware the better.”