COLUMBIA — The contents of a bulky white box in the nonfiction section at Columbia Public Library includes two paperback books, DVDs, informational brochures and materials for classroom teaching.
There are six mental health kits — each tailored to a different topic — assigned to the Columbia Public Library as part of a project to test their effectiveness.
The kits, financed by federal funds, showed up in August on the shelves at Columbia Public Library and the Southern Boone County Public Library in Ashland. They are slated for the collection at the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton.
Tonya Hays-Martin of the Missouri Department of Mental Health said the kits can also be found at the Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence and the Springfield-Greene County Library.
Each library has one kit that covers each of six mental health topics: depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, schizophrenia, autism and disability awareness, said Patricia Miller, public services librarian for the Daniel Boone Regional Library system that includes Columbia.
Miller said the kits were designed to supplement library resources.
Hays-Martin said the kits were modeled after an initiative at a library in Topeka, Kan., and how they're received in Missouri will determine whether to put more of them in libraries.
The Department of Mental Health received grant money through the Missouri State Library's grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, to fund the kits.
Nancy Nickolaus, the Department of Mental Health's grant coordinator for the project, said a "lead professional" from the agency's mental health, alcohol and drug abuse and developmental disabilities divisions worked with family members to decide what each kit would include.
Nickolaus said the goals of the kits are to raise awareness and tell people where they can go for help, including support groups for caregivers.
Aside from the disabilities awareness kit, which is geared toward younger children and has materials for the classroom, the other kits are geared toward adults, she said."So we tried to use several different types of media to get our information across."