New London

Mental Health Resources Coming to New London Public Library

The city is funding a new pilot program that will bring a mental health community navigator to the New London Public Library.

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New London is launching a new pilot program that will bring a community navigator to the city's public library. It is an effort to address the increased need for mental health support.

“The need in our community is staggering and this is one really important step to help address the need," said Jeanne Milstein, the city's director of human services.

The city is partnering with Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut (CFA) for the pilot program. CFA is actively hiring for the community navigator position.

“We would be there just to talk to folks, answer questions and help connect them to services and supports in the community," said Allison Blake, CEO of CFA. “I think the formal systems can be daunting for people, 'who do I call and what am I asking for?' Just the idea of having someone at the library who is just knowledgeable about the community and its resources we believe is going to go a long way to connecting people to the supports and services they need.”

The pilot program is being funded by city council. To start, the community navigator is expected to work at the library for eight hours per week, according to CFA.

Like many social services agencies, CFA reports an increased need for mental health support since the pandemic began.

“Access is probably the biggest challenge," Blake said. “There are so many people today who are looking for help, but they don’t know how to get it.”

The goal of the navigator is to help get people connected to the help they need.

“The beauty of a mental health navigator is that a trust will start to be developed and that person will probably come back more, share more and be open to maybe supports and services," Milstein said.

The library already offers several community programs and is described as a community gather place.

“I feel as though a library is not just a warehouse of books," said Madhu Gupta, director of the Public Library of New London. "We are about resources. We are about services."

According to Gupta, her team has seen an increased number of people walking into the library with mental health needs and questions.

“We see an overwhelming rate of mental health issues at the library," Gupta said. “We really do not know how to handle that, so to have a mental health consultant here would be ideal for our location.”

CFA is hoping to have a navigator hired within the next two to three weeks.

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