California has more than 44,000 unsheltered homeless people, the highest number in the U.S. Approximately one third (33 percent) includes individuals with serious, untreated mental illnesses, according to a 2014 study by the Treatment Advocacy Shelter.
On any given day, California libraries welcome through their doors millions of patrons from all walks of life. Thousands of these are homeless and many are struggling with a variety of mental conditions such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorders, substance abuse, and depression.
Though not all homeless patrons are mentally ill, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 1 in 5 U.S. adults struggle with a diagnosable mental disorder. This means that 1 in 5 individuals who regularly interact with librarians on the job are impacted by mental illness. Librarians statewide reported that they lacked the skills and training to provide effective services to these members of the community.
Legacy Media Lab was hired to write and produce a video series designed to increase understanding of these conditions and train statewide library staff on how to professionally and compassionately interact with mentally ill patrons. These episodes include valuable input from social workers, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and, of course, librarians themselves. Many of the reenactments are based on true stories. We invite you to watch our episodes here.