Serving Teens with Mental Illness in the Library

A Practical Guide

by Deborah K. Takahashi


Advocate for teens experiencing mental health issues and for their friends and families.

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Cover image for Serving Teens with Mental Illness in the Library

April 2019

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 149
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Children's and Young Adult Services/General
  Children's and Young Adult Collection Management/General

As a teen librarian, you are more likely than not to encounter teens with mental health issues. Will you know how to help them? This guide explains what to do and what not to do.

Mental illness among teens has risen to epidemic levels. When mental health issues come to the library, what is the librarian's role? This book asserts that you don't have to be a social worker or mental health professional to provide guidance to teens with mental health issues. By creating collections that contain mental health resources, working with community partners, and initiating dialogues with library patrons that de-stigmatize mental illness, you can serve a positive and proactive role in helping teens to get help.

This book provides readers with practical guidelines for building collections, programs, and services that support teens experiencing mental health challenges and explains how to create a supportive, welcoming environment in the library. In addition, it shows how to forge partnerships with other community agencies in this endeavor, how to advocate for mentally ill teens, and how to teach them to advocate for themselves. Lastly, it discusses how to evaluate these programs and services, and how to take care of your own needs while serving others.


  • Addresses a growing need for librarians who can lead teens to mental health resources
  • Provides a broad perspective on the many things librarians can do to help teens with mental health issues
  • Gives practical guidelines for improving services, programs, and collections to support this population
Series Description

Libraries Unlimited Professional Guides for Young Adult Librarians Series

This series meets the needs of Young Adult librarians, whether they are new to YA librarianship or experienced. Authored by professional librarians, each book looks at cutting-edge issues, explains its core philosophy clearly, and offers practical advice and hands-on activities for any size library where time and money are short.
Author Info

Deborah K. Takahashi is a branch librarian for Pasadena Public Library who specializes in Youth Services. She holds an MLS degree and is certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. She is a 2009 ALA Spectrum and 2010 CLA Edna Yelland scholar. She served as the 2015–2017 Social Media Co-Chair for the SLA Youth Services Interest Group and was a member of the Mental Health Advisory Committee for the 2016-2017 California State Library (CSL) Mental Health Initiative. She writes for ALA's Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) blog.



"This clearly and compellingly written guide is a well-considered and practical volume that offers a one-stop
resource on this important topic in teens' lives and the lives of the library staff who serve them."Booklist

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