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The Evanston Public Library, together with the Mental Health Task Force of the Mayor’s COVID-19 response team, is kicking off the “Mental Health is Essential” series with a virtual town hall gathering at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12.

The conversation will be led by staff from NAMI, The Family Institute, AMITA Health, and PEER Services, who will share information about their work, including their community-wide survey, and hear from residents about how the pandemic has affected their mental health. Information on local mental health resources and practitioners will also be made available.

The meeting will be a relaxed, judgment-free zone for those concerned with, experiencing, or learning about mental health issues. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend. The objective will be to work together in sharing resources and creating an effective community response to current mental health challenges, and attendees will be encouraged to provide suggestions and input.  

Jill Skwerski, Engagement Services Manager at the Library, said, “This is a chance for residents to come together and talk about how the pandemic has affected their lives, as well as share ideas for future programs. It’s a kind of community mental health intervention that we hope will provide very practical ways for people to improve their mindfulness.” 

Access the Zoom meeting at https://zoom.us/j/97953189024?pwd=WWhyaWk3R2k5NDQwcWRmWGpTSUtEUT09. Anyone needing assistance with Zoom can call the library at 847-448-8630.

Future programs in this series will continue the focus on mental health, providing practical tips, suggestions, and strategies for coping and dealing with mental health issues during the pandemic. The programs will be held virtually on the second Tuesday of each month for the rest of the year.

The second event in the series, to be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9, will be hosted by Dr. Adia Gooden of The Family Institute. Details will be forthcoming at epl.org and will be determined by community feedback received at the initial town hall gathering.