Calgary

Calgary library's new wellness desk offers free drop-in mental health services

It's no secret that libraries offer more than just books, and a new service at Calgary's Central Library location intends to broaden the role it plays in enriching communities and minds.

Pilot project will be open afternoons and evenings at the Central Library until Dec. 31

Calgary's Central Library has a new desk that offers drop-in, free mental health services. (Michael Grimm)

It's no secret that libraries offer more than just books, and a new service at Calgary's Central Library location intends to broaden the role it plays in enriching communities and minds.

The library's new wellness desk will provide free, drop-in mental health care.

Until Dec. 31, library patrons can visit room 3-19A on the third floor during the afternoon or evening to meet with a professional from Wood's Homes for mental health or addiction support, or referral to other services — at no cost, and no appointment required. 

"The library is evolving to meet the needs of our city during an unprecedented mental health crisis, one which has worsened due to a pandemic," said Mark Asberg, Calgary Public Library CEO, in an emailed release on Tuesday.

The downtown branch was chosen for its central location, volume of visitors, and the high-needs population it serves, the library said.

Bjorn Johansson, CEO for Wood's Homes, said the mental health centre is proud to be part of the effort. 

"Service accessibility and immediacy are contributors to improved mental health, especially in these times when many of us need and help and support," he said. 

An online survey of Albertans who reached out to Text-4-Hope, a government service that provides a daily reassuring text message, found the pandemic has been taking a toll on mental health, with increased signs of obsessive behaviour, stress and depression. 

Opioid overdose numbers and calls to mental health helplines have also been on the rise. 

More information about the project and links to other mental health resources are available on the library's website

The pilot project is being funded by the City of Calgary, RBC Foundation, and donors to the Calgary Public Library Foundation. 


If you're struggling or know someone who is, you can call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service hotline 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566, or text "CONNECT" to the Kids Help Phone (which also serves adults) at 686868.

For a list of 24-hour crisis centres in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention's website.

If you feel your mental health or the mental health of a loved one is at risk of an immediate crisis, call 911. 

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