OCEANSIDE — Next month, the city’s library is hosting its first mental health resource fair to raise awareness about local mental health organizations and to destigmatize mental illness.
The resource fair, to be held in the Civic Center Library Community Rooms and outside courtyard from 2 to 6 p.m. May 9, will observe May as Mental Health Awareness Month.
According to Senior Librarian Jennelise Hafen, the mental health resource fair is supported by an initiative from the Southern California Library Cooperative and the California State Library.
More than 20 local agencies and organizations will be present at the resource fair, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness San Diego (NAMI), North County Health Services, Vista Community Clinic, Inferfaith Community Services, North County LGBTQ Center, In Home Outreach Team North County and Community Health Improvement Partners, among several others.
Hafen said the fair is open to the whole community, not just those suffering from mental illness. For example, someone who has a loved one suffering from mental illness could go to learn how to better support that person.
“The fair is for anyone who has been touched by mental illness, whether it’s directly or indirectly,” Hafen said.
The fair will also include free mental health classes and training on mental health screenings, suicide prevention, a yoga session and a “Coffee with a Cop” session with members from Oceanside Police Departments Psychiatric Emergency Response Team and Homeless Outreach Team. Those who are interested in taking classes and training at the fair have to register beforehand at www.oceansidepubliclibrary.eventbrite.com.
The fair will also unveil the library’s community art project, “#MentalIllnessFeelsLike.” Hafen wants more community members to contribute to the art project, which aims to destigmatize mental illness. Participants can submit a short description, poem or piece of art that represents how mental illness affects them. Contributions to the project can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“One of the ways the art project destigmatizes mental illness is by showing people that they’re not the only ones suffering, that they’re not alone,” Hafen said.
According to NAMI, approximately one in five Americans experience a mental illness in a given year.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son