The Daviess County Public Library is shining a light on the importance of mental health among area teens in the wake of COVID-19.
Everyone has been adversely affected by the impacts of the pandemic on every level, but a group that is particularly at risk is teens, said Sarah Jacobs, the library’s teen programming coordinator.
“I have seen other libraries doing similar programs and have been keeping up with studies on the negative impacts of COVID-19 on teen mental health,” she said. “The teenage years are a difficult time that have their own set of stresses and anxiety without the added weight of a pandemic disrupting their daily routine, school and the ability to be with their peers. A lot of teens are experiencing negative consequences and are particularly vulnerable right now.”
One program that Jacobs put into place began on Dec. 1 and focused on self-care, she said.
“Our Self-Care Kits were made for teens age 13 to 18,” she said. “The bags contain various supplies geared toward aiding teens in exploring ways to de-stress, practice mindfulness and relax. The kits come with a journal, pen, journaling prompts, mindfulness exercises, a packet of tea or hot cocoa, a container of slime because who doesn’t love slime …as well as materials for crafts.”
Mindfulness is the practice of being cognizant of what is happening in the moment and being aware of one’s emotions and actions in that moment. The Self-Care Kits have activities to aid in this practice, such as the “calming glitter jar,” she said.
“It is like making your own snow globe,” she said. “Basically you find a jar and add water and glitter and you imagine as the glitter floats around and settles that your thoughts are settling. Obviously, the kit won’t solve the problem, but it is a way to start that conversation and introduce teens to mindfulness through activities that can give them ideas or tools to deal with their stress and anxiety. “
The first 24 bags released on Dec. 1 have been claimed with a second round beginning on Monday. The second round will also have 24 bags, she said.
The library also hosted a Facebook Live session led by Ashley Agada of Girls Inc. on Thursday that specifically focused on mindfulness as well as strategies to practice “positive self-talk,” Jacobs said.
In addition to focusing on mental health, Jacobs has also continued to offer in-person programs, volunteer opportunities as well as virtual programming to keep teens active and engaged, she said.
“We have our Maker Kits that are available all of the time at the library,” she said. “They can stop by the library and these kits include things like sculpting, sewing and other hands-on activities. There are 11 different kits. We still have our monthly anime club and our teen volunteers, grades 6 to 12, met this week to make Christmas cards for residents in local nursing homes. We will definitely continue these programs and I hope to do more mental health-focused programming in the new year.”
Anyone interested in becoming a teen volunteer or in other teen programming can visit dcplibrary.org.
Jacob Mulliken, The Messenger-Inquirer