About the Project

The School of Information Science & Learning Technologies and the Hook Center for Educational Renewal at the University of Missouri are working to learn how rural school libraries serve as anchors for community mental health literacy efforts.

This project addresses the need for increased mental health support and resources for young people in rural communities. School mental health programs are viewed as one of the more effective ways to address children’s mental health needs and reduce barriers to mental health supports, and school librarians can serve as community anchors for mental health literacy. To date, however, there are no best practices for how school librarians can and should work to support children’s mental health needs, and their role in advancing children’s mental health literacy has not been defined.

This project intends to clarify the role of school librarians in supporting mental health literacy and develop best practices and resources to be used by school librarians. Audiences to be addressed will include school librarians, school administrators, and researchers in the areas of school librarianship and school mental health. Intended outcomes are increased knowledge of the way school librarians can support children’s mental health (librarians, counselors, school administrators) and the way rural mental health needs can be addressed most effectively (educators of librarians and counselors, decision-makers).

Project activities proposed include a quantitative survey of mental health support administered to rural school librarians, counselors, and administrators; qualitative interviews and focus groups with rural school librarians, counselors, and administrators; environmental analyses of school libraries where best practices are happening; and development of recommendations for a national mental health literacy action agenda; Tangible products include a white paper discussing the state of rural mental health literacy for children and communities and the benefits and barriers to relying upon school librarians for support; curricular and training units on mental health literacy for in-service and pre-service school librarians, a guide to best practices and resources for mental health literacy for rural school librarians.