Addressing depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are some of our region’s most pressing needs. And while both urban and rural communities struggle with access to timely and affordable quality mental health services, issues in rural communities are exacerbated due to inadequate mental health resources.
While safety-net clinics serve as a vital part of providing and ensuring access to health care for residents, they are not the only community hub for health–libraries play this critical role as well. Libraries are trusted and accessible community gathering places that bring together people from diverse backgrounds and offer access to resources for those who may be uniquely at risk for mental health conditions–particularly those who may experience the greatest barriers to care.
In response to inadequate community mental health services, St. David’s Foundation is reimagining the delivery of mental health by building upon trusted community networks and piloting Libraries for Health, an initiative that enables non-clinical mental health supports and practices within libraries. Ten libraries in Central Texas are participating in this pilot program.
St. David’s Foundation has partnered with the RAND Corporation to implement and evaluate Libraries for Health. RAND brings expertise working on community-based mental wellness interventions including Robert Wood Johnson’s Culture of Health project.
If we are to champion health equity within our region, we must recognize the many unseen barriers to accessing care. We must commit to breaking down those barriers in innovative ways that use the full range of community assets, including spaces, relationships, and information.
of suicides in Texas occurred in rural areas, though making up only 11% of the population
libraries with peer support specialists
There are ten libraries across nine Central Texas communities participating in St. David's Foundation's Libraries for Health initiative.