About Us

Photo of a library staff worker scanning books.

Libraries throughout the state serve vulnerable populations every day. Our goal at the Mental Health Initiative is for libraries to more effectively and compassionately act as hubs for mental health education and support.

Because libraries are trusted institutions in communities, they are perfectly suited for this task.

One of the Mental Health Initiative’s goals is normalizing the conversation around mental health. Studies are finding more and more people suffer from debilitating mental illnesses, however, due in part to stigma, they rarely seek help. Libraries are ideally situated to start these conversations on mental health. By offering tools, training, and resources to library staff, we begin building a stronger, more accepting community of compassion and tolerance.

Photo of the entrance of a library with a bare tree in the foreground.
Photo of a smiling woman in a library.

According to a recent Health Interview Survey, nearly 1 in 10 adults in California suffer from functional impairment due to a mental disorder.

This means 9 percent of all adults in the state are experiencing psychological suffering to the point of it affecting their work and social life.

The World Health Organization has predicted that by this year, 2020, depression will be the most common mental health issue — and the world’s second leading cause of disability.

Mental health disorders are even more widespread among teens and people experiencing homelessness.

  • An estimated 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health disorder.
  • Over half of students 14 years and older with a mental health disorder will drop out of high school.
  • Of the homeless population, 26 percent face chronic mental illness and 35 percent have chronic substance abuse issues.
  • About 1 in 20 veterans experience serious mental illness and of those, 3 out of 4 will inadequate or no treatment at all.

The Mental Health Initiative strives to make communities throughout California healthier. To do this, we work with libraries across the state to enhance their ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for accessing mental health knowledge and resources.

Here are Some of the Libraries We Have Worked with Throughout the State