May is Mental Health Awareness Month

A guest post by Ally Dowds, a Health & Human Services Research Specialist at the Boston Public Library.

The month of May is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness. It is a time to share your experience, raise awareness for others, educate yourself on the warning signs, and push back against the stigma that creates barriers for individuals on a journey to recovery.

This year, the National Alliance for Mental Illness is asking the public the question, #WhyCare?. They hope this will create stronger support networks for anyone affected by mental health. They also hope this will  “address broken systems and attitudes that present barriers to treatment and recovery.”

The BPL cares. We care because 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental health condition. We care because 50% of all mental illness begins by age 14. And we care because almost 60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive mental health services this year.

Access to information is a perfect first step to making an impact. For current patrons of the BPL and members of our community, the library is a good starting point. You can come here to seek out supportive and educational resources on mental health conditions. We have shared a few resources below to promote self-care and mental well-being. This list is not complete, nor should it replace the guidance of medically trained professionals.

Local Organizations

Department of Mental Health

Services are provided to adults with a serious mental illness and children and youth with serious emotional disturbance. DMH also publishes resource guides for consumers, families, and caregivers.

Fenway Health’s Behavioral Health Department

Provides access to therapy and support groups, psychiatric evaluation and treatment, and outpatient services that are sensitive to LGBT concerns. A Fenway provider is always available, 24/7. Please call 617.267.0900 and follow the prompts to reach the On-Call provider.

NAMI Massachusetts

This local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers support groups. These groups are for people living with a mental health condition, for family members and caregivers. They offer tools for navigating a mental health crisis, access to housing, legal, employment, and health provider resources.

Boston Public Library Libguides, Events, & Booklists:

Check out health-related library guides such as:

Want books on mental health? Librarians are great at making lists, but browse the Online Catalog for the BPL’s full collection on mental health as well as newly published titles. We also have a variety of health related events you may want to check out, including yoga and Tai-Chi.

Or, visit the Central Library’s upcoming Community Health Fair on May 24th featuring mental health agencies such as the Department of Mental Health, the Samaritans, and the Massachusetts Substance Use Hotline.




Monday -Friday, 9am - 5pm

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Spanish Language: 1-866-628-9454

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889

available 24/7, talk or chat online

Samaritans Statewide Helpline


LGBT National Hotline


​limited hours, talk or chat online

Veterans Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255 (press 1)

available 24/7, talk, text, or chat online

Teen Line

Teen Line 1-800-266-7883

also offers online chat and text

available 24/7, talk or text