This summer the Healdsburg Regional Library will offer a series of mental health classes for teenagers, thanks to an innovative partnership between the Sonoma County Library system and Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), a nonprofit offering mental health and housing services for youth.
Mental health classes in Healdsburg started on June 13. The next class is June 20, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Healdsburg library, 139 Piper St. (See full schedule at left.)
Healdsburg is one of five libraries in the county, including Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Rohnert Park, that are piloting the six-week program this summer.
Rachel Icaza, education initiatives librarian for Sonoma County Library, said SAY approached the library with the idea of creating mental health classes for teens. Icaza said this is the first time the library has offered a group like this.
According to Shelby Harris, communications officer for SAY, the one-hour, once-a-week groups for teens, ages 12 to 19, will focus on supporting mental wellness and helping teens cope with challenges in healthy ways.
Harris said the class will cover several topics, including “normal responses to loss and change, developing healthy coping skills, identifying complex emotions and making meaningful choices.”
Icaza said the groups will be led by a bilingual SAY clinicians “for teens who want to discuss any type of grief or struggle they are experiencing.”
She said there will also be opportunities for the teens to express and explore their feelings through art.
Harris said SAY devised the program on the advice of SAY therapists, who were worried about what students who normally use school mental health services will do once school is out.
“SAY therapists work in 30 schools around the county,” she said, “and once school is out for summer, there’s a real need in the community for the kind of mental health support services that schools usually provide.”
Teenagers can sign up for the whole series or just drop in to any class and check things out.