Mental health resources are coming to the New London Public Library – NBC Connecticut
New London is launching a new pilot program that will bring a community navigator to the city’s public library. It is an attempt to meet the increased need for psychological support.
“The need in our community is overwhelming, and this is a really important step in meeting the need,” said Jeanne Milstein, the city’s director of human services.
The city is working with the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut (CFA) on the pilot program. CFA is actively recruiting for the Community Navigator position.
“We would just be there to talk to people, answer questions, and help connect them to services and support in the community,” said Allison Blake, CEO of CFA Call And What Do I Ask ?’ Just the idea of having someone in the library who is just knowledgeable about the community and its resources, we think will go a long way in connecting people to the supports and services they need.”
The pilot project is funded by the city council. According to the CFA, the community navigator will initially work eight hours a week at the library.
Like many social services, CFA has been reporting an increased need for mental health support since the pandemic began.
“Access is probably the biggest challenge,” Blake said. “There are so many people today who are looking for help but don’t know how to get it.”
The Navigator’s goal is to help people get connected to the help they need.
“The beauty of being a mental health navigator is that trust develops, and that person is likely to come back more often, share more, and be open to support and service,” Milstein said.
The library already offers several community programs and is referred to as a community meeting place.
“I feel like a library isn’t just a storehouse for books,” said Madhu Gupta, director of the Public Library of New London. “It’s about resources. We’re about service.”
According to Gupta, her team has seen an increasing number of people coming to the library with mental health issues and questions.
“We’re seeing an overwhelming rate of mental health problems in the library,” Gupta said. “We really don’t know how to deal with that, so having a mental health counselor here would be ideal for our location.”
CFA hopes to have a navigator on board within the next two to three weeks.