The Role of Libraries in the Opioid Crisis & Mental Health Month

It’s the first beautiful day in a long while here in Ohio. It’s 70 and sunny, the birds are singing, the grass is green… and I’m going to write a blog post about the opioid crisis and mental health awareness.

I dragged myself to it, not going to lie. I want to be outside, and I want to be thinking about positive things. But the truth is that mindset is exactly what I’m writing about today – the happy sunshine of the external being the easier thing to interact with (and talk about) than the clouds, the darkness, and the topics that make us uneasy.

My friend and librarian Krista Taracuk wrote a great article for Harper Stacks about the role of libraries in the opioid crisis, and how my book Heroine can be a way to start conversations about how a public place like the library can best serve a segment of the population that deal with addiction.

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May is Mental Health Month, and I’m partnering with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to promote the On Our Sleeves campaign, a movement to get people talking about mental illness the same way we talk about physical illness – without shame or stigma.

1 in 5 children is living with a mental illness. Because we don’t wear our thoughts on our sleeves, we don’t know what kids might be going through. Join us and Nationwide Children’s Hospital as we break the silence about children’s mental health.

#OnOurSleeves https://www.onoursleeves.org

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If you or your child need immediate help due to having suicidal thoughts, go to your local emergency room immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

• What is the goal of On Our Sleeves? As one of America’s leading voices in pediatric mental health, we are determined to offer hope and to transform mental health outcomes for children everywhere. Millions of children and families across America are living with mental illness. Our goal is to eliminate the stigma around mental illness in children and young adults, provide much needed educational resources and accelerate funding for research here at Nationwide Children’s.

• What does On Our Sleeves mean? The On Our Sleeves movement takes a classic saying (We don’t wear our heart on our sleeves) and brings new life to its application. The illustrative graphics are placed on the arms or sleeves of children and teens to symbolize thoughts and feelings associated with mental health. The message encourages everyone to engage with this topic because we ultimately don’t know what may be going on in someone’s life.

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• What do the icons mean? If kids could wear their thoughts on their sleeves, what would they look like? Our On Our Sleeves icons visualize what you may see if you could know what’s on a child’s mind. Each icon represents potential thoughts and feelings someone could have, using simple illustrations to symbolize complex emotions. However, a person’s experiences will define what these icons mean to them. Read more at OnOurSleeves.org.

• How will donations to this movement be used? Children’s mental health is an often overlooked and vastly underfunded component of pediatric health and research. Lack of healthcare resources and funding only complicate and hinder efforts to make significant changes that impact our youth during these critically important formative years. Gifts of any size will help us expand care and accelerate pediatric mental health research at Nationwide Children’s. Through research, we hope to better understand the causes and most effective treatment of behavioral health conditions and address the tragically
rising rate of youth suicide. Learnings gained from clinicians and scientists at Nationwide Children’s will be freely shared to improve care for children everywhere.

• What does the future of pediatric mental health look like at Nationwide Children’s? Thanks to a transformational $50 million gift from Big Lots and their Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital will construct the largest behavioral health treatment and research center just for children and adolescents in the nation. The building is slated to open in early 2020.

• How do you get involved or find more information? The movement website provides direct access to local resources, blog posts, tip sheets, conversation starters, ways to get involved, videos, podcasts and much more. To join the movement, learn more or make a donation, please visit OnOurSleeves.org.

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