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Mental Illness

posted Jul 20, 2017, 10:28 AM by Tyler Wilmoth   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 10:28 AM ]
For many, mental illness can mean different things, and many people are high functioning individuals that are living every day with a mental illness but most people around them never know it. I think this is why mental illness is a difficult subject to tackle.

I will discuss a lot about mental illness on this blog rather than physical disabilities. But I think that is important because I have often found with physical disabilities, most places and most people are usually very accommodating without thinking twice. With people with physical or communication disabilities, there are clear visual cues that a person has a disability i.e. a wheelchair. People with mental illness often go undetected or are so extreme that they further ingrain unjust stereotypes and this causes problems for everyone within the library.

Addressing mental illness in libraries is important. I do not think that this is because other types of disabilities are not as important, but I think that as a society, everyone accepts these as legitimate disabilities whereas this is not the case with mental illness. I was actually talking with an educated person (also a Baptist minister) a few years ago about mental illness and he said directly to me that he doesn't believe that mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, OCD, etc. are real illnesses and that those people just needed to change how their mind works.

To ignore these illnesses as if they weren't real is a disservice to the entire community. As stated in the Torrey article, there are a multitude of problems in the public library that come from mental illness in the community. Some solutions, as Torrey stated, are more security for the library, especially at night or during hours when incidents are more likely to occur, and the proper training of library staff on how to handle these patrons when they are disruptive or inappropriate.

As librarians, we will be required to treat everyone with respect (which we all should do as human beings, but I have found that doesn't always happen) that comes into the library and make the right judgments in situations where problems arise from mentally ill patrons.

Post Reference: Torrey, E., Eposito, R., & Geller, J. (2009). Problems Associated with Mentally Ill Individuals in Public Libraries. Public Libraries, 48(3), 45-51
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