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Boise Public Library welcomes first mental health coordinator

After proposing the idea to Mayor Lauren McLean and the Boise City Council in December, the library recently added a mental health coordinator to its staff.

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Public Library is putting an emphasis on people’s mental health.  

Just one month ago, the library welcomed its first mental health coordinator, Ashley Hammond. Her primary role is connecting patrons with needed resources around town.

Hammond said library administration created the role after seeing people come in with questions traditional staff members did not feel qualified to answer.

Having a social worker in the library is only natural, since some people consider the space a refuge, Hammond said.

“If people are wanting to seek services here, then being able to do that in a way that is in a neutral setting, that doesn’t have the stigma that may be associated with going to a mental health facility,” Hammond said.

Hammond said she is already helping people navigate some of those services, like Medicaid benefits.  

Library Director Jessica Dorr originally presented the idea of a mental health coordinator to Mayor Lauren McLean and Boise City Council in December. Now that the idea has come to fruition, Hammond said they are working on adjusting her schedule so she can help people at all the library branches in Boise.

As a Boisean herself, who frequently went to the library growing up, Hammond said it is fulfilling to see life come full circle.

“I never thought that my profession would intersect with the library,” Hammond said. “So it’s cool to see that the city saw that there was a need here and created this position.”

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Mayor McLean said Hammond's role allows the public to "utilize the trust and accessibility of the Library to connect people experiencing challenges with the support and resources available in our community."

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