Photo of the Washington Public Library (Kalen McCain/The Union)
WASHINGTON — Staff at the Washington Public Library are planning a “Mental Health Monday” for children in grades 7 through 12 from January 9 to February 13. Youth Services Librarian Jennissa Harris said the one-hour weekly class helps participants learn important strategies to use in their lives.
“It’s about learning about healthy mindfulness tools, activities, and resources to support an individual’s mental health and wellbeing,” she said. It teaches children how to deal with stress and anxiety, and prepares them for a more mindful way of thinking in the new year.”
Harris received training for the program through the Iowa State Extension Office, which provides course outlines and curriculum. She said there were several reasons for bringing the case to the library.
One reason is personal. A community minor who died by suicide last year was close to many at the Washington Library.
The other is the rapidly changing world facing today’s youth.
“I feel we need more mindfulness techniques,” Harris said. It’s chaotic, so just give them the tools to learn deep breathing and mindfulness techniques, and the younger the better at learning it.”
Harris said she felt ready to work with children attending lessons that could accommodate up to 15 participants.
“I feel like I’ve built really strong relationships with the teens I work with in the community,” she said. “I think this should be taught by trusted adults. I think children will be happy to come with me if they trust me, not strangers…and I feel that the library is a safe place where people feel welcome and safe here.”
The program will take place at the library on Mondays from 9th January to 13th February from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. Those interested can register by phone or through the library’s website, Harris said.