In-person and virtual programs hosted by local libraries will feature experts and recently designed videos to address mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic

The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Columbia University will launch a series of  mental health discussions beginning this March in partnership with the National Black Leadership Commission on Health (Black Health). The programs are part of the Community Mental Health Project, an initiative developed by the three institutions to bring free education and resources to New York City residents who face lack of access and cultural barriers to behavioral health care. 

Hosted online or in person by local libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—the programs will be led by mental health experts from Columbia University and Black Health, featuring animated videos produced by Columbia Department of Psychiatry’s Center for Practice Innovations. Information about the upcoming events can be found here.

Topics of discussion will include subjects such as community support and resources, mental wellness resources for seniors, overcoming stigma, the impact of COVID-19 on young adult lives, navigating intergenerational relationships, and seeking support from mental health professionals. The programs will also be supported by a curated list of books in Spanish and English available for check out throughout the Library system.

The public can find information about the programs, animated videos, and recommended books through an online space created by the Library that includes links to other mental health wellness resources freely available to New Yorkers.

The Community Mental Health Project, made possible through support from the Leon Levy Foundation, aims to reduce the distress and trauma in the city’s communities that have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To identify areas of behavioral health most relevant to communities, NYPL and Columbia partnered with Black Health, a nonprofit organization committed to achieving health equity. Last year Black Health facilitated five roundtable discussions with residents in neighborhoods from Harlem to The Bronx. The groups included adolescents, young adults, and seniors who came together to identify and discuss their community’s mental health needs. 

New York City’s public libraries, trusted spaces in every community, have supported New Yorkers throughout the pandemic by offering virtual resources, helpful information, and have also served as locations for COVID-19 vaccinations and test kit distribution.