Personal Stories – supporting awareness of mental health

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Academic Librarian, Kirsty Bower, describes a project to expand Library collections to help support staff and students:

“To support mental health awareness events Library staff selected books from the main collection to support awareness around this subject. It soon became apparent that, as an academic institution, some of the books we offered may not appeal to everyone due to their clinical textbook approach. 

However, through working with other University, public and NHS Libraries, an opportunity recently came about to submit a request for additional external funding to develop our collection in this area. The aim was to develop a collection of titles which offered a more ‘personal’ account of dealing with a particular illness or condition.

But why would a University Library be interested in patient accounts of living with an illness – surely this is the remit of the Public Library? Our interest in the project was inspired by a request from a GP trainer who wanted to help her trainees to develop more understanding and empathy for their patients. The aim of the project is to encourage these necessary skills through making patient stories available in an academic setting to the next generation of healthcare staff at the outset of their training and education.

Fortunately we were successful in our bid, the result being the personal stories collection which highlights the personal impact of a particular illness, on individuals and their families (patient stories), rather than just the clinical diagnostic features of the condition or management techniques.

This collection is not solely aimed at Health students but all students to enable them to support a friend, family member, housemate or work colleague with a specific condition or illness.”

A sample of some of the titles can be seen below some of the titles are available to borrow now, some will be available within the next few weeks from the Library.

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A positive mental health community

University Mental Health Day 2018 takes place on Thursday 1st March. This year’s theme is community, and we all have a part to play in cultivating a positive mental health community at university. The Library offers lots of support for students experiencing mental health problems.

Both Libraries are open 24 hours a day seven days a week, so you can choose your preferred time to study, for example you may prefer to visit at less busy times. We recommend you take regular breaks and stay hydrated while you study; water fountains are on the first, second and third floors of Sheila Silver Library and just outside JG250 in Headingley Library.

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Sheila Silver Library

There are study spaces to suit different preferences, including silent and group study areas, and a Disability Resource Area, which students registered with Disability Advice can use for silent study. You can view regular and 360-degree photographs of both Disability Resource Areas before you visit.

We have a wide range of books in both Libraries to support mental health and wellbeing, including titles on stress, anxiety, depression and mindfulness.

Standard loan library books now renew automatically for up to 6 months, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to renew them; we will email your University email account to let you know if you need to return your items.

If you have mental health problems which make it difficult for you to come in to the Libraries in person, you can place books on hold and collect them from the High Demand Area near the entrance on the ground floor. You can also access a wide range of electronic resources from off-campus.

If you are worried about your academic skills, Skills for Learning can help. They offer advice and workshops on various topics such as time management, presentations and referencing. You might also benefit from some of the assistive software available in the Libraries, for example mind mapping software can help you to record and organise your ideas, and Pro-Study can help you keep track of research sources for assignments.

Students registered with Disability Advice can book a one-to-one appointment with the Library’s Learning Support Officer, to help you make the most of the Library services and resources available to you.

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Sue Smith,  Learning Support Officer

Our friendly and supportive Library staff are available to help in person 08:30 – 19:00 Monday – Friday and 11:00 – 17:00 Saturday – Sunday, so please come and speak to us if you need any advice. You can also phone us, email us or chat with us, if you feel more comfortable contacting us in these ways. Library staff have received training in mental health awareness, to help us support students with mental health problems effectively.

If you prefer to access self-service information, you can find this on the Library website or via the Library tab in MyBeckett, including FAQs and video guides.​