From the Library floor

In a new series of blogs, school librarian Shelley Fallows will share her ideas for creating a vibrant library that students will want to use. This month, she explores mental wellbeing.

This month in the Library we supported Mental Health Awareness Week and there have been many activities, lectures and events throughout the School to help raise awareness.

Of course, mental wellbeing is something we think about all year round and the Library can be a reassuring refuge in times of need. My aim is that the Library is a quiet area where pupils can come to work, study, read or simply enjoy some down time. We regularly share poems, positive affirmations and of course, inspiring books. I'm a great believer that the right poem or book will find the reader who needs it but at times a helpful nudge is needed and it's my job to put it out there.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, we add some extras to the Library environment. Activities such as mindful colouring - there are some great bookmark templates online and I then encourage them to borrow a book to place their finished bookmark in. I have created a reading snug to provide a hideaway for anyone wanting to disappear into a book for a short while. It's simple enough - a cosy corner with bean bags and perhaps some fairy lights are all you need.

We also have a 'Kindness Wall' where pupils can leave messages to make a friend's heart sing or to lift their spirits. Friday lunchtime is time for our creative writing club and this week we wrote 'Dear xxx' poems addressed to our fears to help us face them and make them appear slightly less scary.

Finally, there are a great range of books available to pupils that give advice, awareness or simply let them know they are not alone. As CS Lewis was quoted as saying 'we read to know that we are not alone'. There is some debate as to whether he actually said this but nonetheless I think it perfectly suited here.

Here are some of my recommended reads from the Library this month:

Banish Your Body Image Thief by Kate Collins-Donnelly - This one is particularly fitting with this year's theme for Mental Health Awareness Week - 'Body Image'. It's a workbook based on a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness. The book can be used as a whole, or you can dip in and out depending on personal needs. It also has stories from children, plus poems and illustrations.

Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens by Earl Hipp - Tips to help tame the tiger and handle stress in a positive way. This is super for teens who feel frustrated, overwhelmed and anxious. It also explains the physical and emotional effects of stress and the unhealthy ways people deal with it. There are '10 Tiger-Taming Techniques' which include the positive effects of exercise, good nutrition, assertiveness, relationships, setting goals, time-management, challenging yourself, decision making and finally, seeing the good in yourself.

Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson - This book encourages people to be more open about mental health. It aims to provide a better understanding of what can cause mental health issues and how we can all (and probably do) at some degree suffer from them at one time or another. Juno writes in an easy, friendly manner - to the point and matter of fact and with the help of clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt, discusses a range of issues and how to manage them. This book isn't afraid to talk about anything but does so in a way appropriate for its audience.

Tyranny: I Keep You Thin by Lesley Fairfield - This is a moving graphic novel about one girl's battle against an eating disorder. The illustrations along with Anna's narrative make this an incredibly powerful novel of hope and survival.

Positively Teenage by Nicola Morgan - This is a book specifically for teenagers. It claims to give the right tools to negotiate the teenage years and beyond with positivity and confidence. The thing I love about this book is that you can almost feel the positive vibes coming off it. From its bright cover to the easy to navigate content this book will give any teenager a positive boost to help them look after both their physical and mental health.

And in YA fiction:

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard - This carries on from Beautiful Broken Things and Suzanne is returning to Brighton, now 18 and living independently. The theme of coping with a mental illness is well handled by Sara and there is so much love and friendship within the story. (There are themes of a sexual nature in this book and also reference to some mild drug use.)

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall - Published in 2016, I've only come across this book in the last year. It's Louise's debut novel and covers issues such as agoraphobia and OCD. This one has proved popular in the Library and gives a better understanding of these conditions but ultimately leaves the reader with a sense of hope.

21/05/2019From the Library floor
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