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Cherry Hill library series focuses on mental health

Next session will be on July 17

The Cherry Hill Public Library is tackling conversations about mental health in a new series of programs that will continue through November.

Each month will feature its own themed program, and the hope is to help educate people and bring the community together for discussions on aspects of mental health. The programs are free, but registration is required.

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A session in May featured a guided conversation around anxiety with regard to climate change, while the June session focused on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Head of references and adult services librarian Tierney Miller noted that to encourage conversation, llibrary staffers stacked the self-help bookshelf with works on the disorder.

“We pulled them all and highlighted them,” Miller said, “so even if people couldn’t come to the program, they could grab the books.”

The next library program will be on Wednesday, July 17, when psychologist Marla W. Deibler will lead a presentation and Q and A on hair pulling, skin picking, nail-biting and other body-focused repetitive behaviors that can co-occur with anxiety disorders, OCD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

“While it does seem very niche, when you think about the number of people who bite their nails, it’s quite high,” Miller explained. ” … It’s something that probably impacts more people than we know, and we haven’t had the opportunity to offer something like this before.”

The library program notes that body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB) affect as many as one in 20 individuals and that its workshop “will provide an overview of BFRBs, including the phenomenology, self-reinforcing nature of the disorders, current trends in evidence-based treatment and resources for the health-care community and for those living with these disorders.”

Upcoming programs at the library will be on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m.: Understanding trauma
  • Monday, Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m.: Suicide prevention and awareness
  • Saturday, Oct. 26, at noon: Overview of personality dsorders
  • Monday, Nov 18, at 7 p.m. : Borderline Personality Disorder

Although the library has hosted mental-health events in the past, the series on the subject is the first regular one. It’s partially funded by a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation, as well as by the Friends of the Cherry Hill Public Library.

“There’s a big stigma around mental health and there’s also sometimes costs involved,” Miller noted. “There’s a lot of barriers to people seeking treatment, and what it seemed to me is that we were the first stop for people seeking treatment.”

Miller hopes that attendees will be able to come away with more information about the topic as well as a sense of community.

“The real hope is that some of the stigma will be relieved,” she pointed out, “because if you go to a program and find out that the thing that is bothering you, or is bothering a loved one, or that you might have suffered through, is not as rare as you thought it was. Or you’re in a room full of people who – to varying degrees – are struggling with that same issue.

“You feel less alone in it.”

To learn more about the library programs or to register, visit chplnj.org.

This article was updated on July 1, 2024.


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