Library offers information about mental health—May 9, 2008
May is National Mental Health month. The Hastings Public Library has myriad resources to increase awareness, educate, and inspire mental health consumers, family members and friends, or anyone interested in learning more about mental health and well-being. Without dispensing any advice myself, I’d like to highlight various areas of the collection that address mental health.
INFORMATION AND AWARENESS
There is an extensive collection of informational books on a range of subjects, including anxiety, autism spectrum, bipolar, borderline personality, eating, generalized anxiety, obsessive- compulsive, panic, and post-traumatic stress disorders; as well as depression, schizophrenia, and social phobia. Topics include symptoms, treatment options, therapy, medication, and recovery.
Titles such as “What to Do When Someone You Love Is Depressed” by Mitch and Susan Golant and “Courage after Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families” by Keith Armstrong offer suggestions when helping loved ones who experience specific mental health issues.
When it comes to the availability of self-help and inspirational books, there’s no end in sight. The Hastings Public Library offers a variety, such as the “Chicken Soup” series by Jack Canfield, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Stress” by Jeff Davidson, and “Managing Your Mind” by Gillian Butler and Tony Hope. “Yoga for Wellness” by Gary Kraftsow discusses yoga as a therapeutic approach to emotional health and well-being.
MEMOIRS AND BIOGRAPHIES
Biographies can provide intimate insight into the lives of the mentally ill. “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar delves into the life of Nobel Laureate John Nash, a mathematician with schizophrenia. His story was made into the same-titled movie in 2001, with Nash portrayed by Russell Crowe.
In one memoir, “Born on a Blue Day,” author Daniel Tammet invites the reader to explore his mind and life as an autistic savant with Asperger’s syndrome. Another, “An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness” by Kay Redfield Jamison, discusses the extremes in her moods and toll they took on her personal and professional life.
The various dimensions of mental disorders often find their way into literature. Two heartwarming and humorous works come to mind.
The first, “The Pleasure of My Company” by Steve Martin, introduces Daniel, a charming, unemployed young man with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He leads a life constricted by rigid rules. For example, he cannot step over curbs, so is in constant search of driveways symmetrically opposed to each other in order to cross streets. All the while, life goes on around him, and in time, he finds ways to broaden his experiences.
In “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon, the narrator is an autistic 15-year-old boy. Christopher gets caught up in a poodle-murder mystery that eventually spurs him on an emotional roller-coaster ride with his family, despite his own limited capacity to deal with emotions. The story, like Christopher, is quirky and engaging.
Need information to guide decisions about your health or the health of a family member or friend? The University of Nebraska Medical Center provides such information to Nebraska residents free of charge through our Consumer Health Information Resource Service. Details on how to obtain this information are available at the library.
It’s not easy to talk about mental illness. There is often a stigma attached to experiencing mental illness. Mental disorders do not discriminate, seeping into all age, race, gender, and socioeconomic groups. They stall careers and strain relationships. In short, mental illness influences the lives of everyone involved—not only the affected, but their families, friends, and co-workers as well.
There are many resources for mental health education, inspiration, and support. Find out more at the Hastings Public Library.