Focusing on Mental Wellness for Mental Health Awareness Month and Beyond

Today is the last official day of Mental Health Awareness Month.

Since taking care of your mental health is a year-long, lifelong process, just focusing on it for one month is obviously not enough, but as with all health awareness days or months, in order to be effective, the focus should not just be on short-term knowledge, but on long-term interventions for change.

Awkward Yeti comic with two characters, Heart and Brain (anthropomorphized organs). Brain is staring at a smartphone with an energy bar above his head reading "Mental Health" slowly draining over three panels from yellow to orange to red, denoting a low "battery". In the final panel, Heart takes Brain outside for a walk, leaving the phone behind, and the Mental Health energy bar is increasing in charge and turning green.

While most folks find value in treating themselves to short-term relaxing activities*, when that no longer becomes effective or if problems persist, sometimes what we’re really seeking is a mindset shift. While we can do research to empower ourselves, it’s also okay to ask for help.

*And you should if it helps you! Don’t devalue short-term joys!

If you need to talk to someone, Durham Tech has resources for students and employees. The Employee Assistance Program (ENI) provides up to 8 free visits for a variety of interventions, including mental health. Students can contact Durham Tech’s Counseling Services, including the 24-hour Be Well hotline (833-434-1217). For emergency mental health needs for everyone, including suicidal thoughts, Hope4NC is available by calling or texting (same number, but text “hope”), and the national mental health crisis line can be reached by calling 988 (though you may also want to be informed about other options, available at the very end of the linked article: NPR’s Life Kit– “Social media posts warn people not to call 988. Here’s what you need to know”).

If you have a healthcare professional you trust, you can and should also talk to them. There is no shame in asking for help. Brains are tricky things, and we’re all still recovering in our own ways from the tumult of the last few years.

If you’re also ready to do some of your own mindset shifting and reframe or restructure some popular notions of health and wellness culture, keep reading. The Durham Tech Library has some books for you.

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A New Face in the Library: Welcome, Adrian!

Adrian Knight, May 2023

The Durham Tech Library is thrilled to introduce our new library team member, reference librarian Adrian Knight (he/him). Adrian has worked in the NC Community College library system for several years and most recently comes to us from College of the Albemarle.

A traveler since infanthood, Adrian currently has 48 stamps on his passport with Italy as his favorite place he’s visited so far and was actually born in Vatican City. He also loves cooking (especially Italian food) and is excited to explore the Triangle and Durham food scene. He has five siblings and is a proud middle child.

Adrian is a member of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, Psi Chi Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, PFLAG, NAACP, and is a Little Brother for the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

Adrian has a real passion for reading and getting other people to like reading. He’s especially excited to work with teens and help them rediscover or discover a love of reading beyond what’s assigned in the classroom. He mostly reads and watches supernatural and horror things but is also a big fan of murder/mystery. Adrian is a big reader– ask him about anime or graphic novels!

Stop by the Main Campus during the Library’s summer hours to meet him and keep reading to learn about what Adrian has been reading–Gail Z. Martin’s Deadly Curiosities!

deadly curiosities by gail z. martin

A supernatural antique shop employs a psychic and a vampire to protect regular folks from dangerous magical objects. Book one in a four book series.

Title: Deadly Curiosities (check out the Novelist description and related reads)

Author: Gail Z. Martin

Genre: Supernatural Murder Mystery

This book was read by Adrian Knight, Reference Librarian.

Why did you choose to read this book?

This book was a suggestion by NoveList, a database available through the library (login using your Durham Tech username and password) that shows you suggestions of similar books that you are reading, have read, or just genres, subjects that you like, or are interested in reading.

What did you like about it?

It’s a supernatural book and that always catches my attention, but the supernatural element isn’t overplayed, it blends in well with the “real” world. I also really liked the way the series pays respect to the Afro-Cultural folklore and mythology and how it is an integral part of the storylines.

What feeling did the book leave you with?

That I wanted to fight supernatural entities, then I realized I actually DO NOT want fight monsters and demons and mad gods.

Who would you recommend the book to?

Anyone who like supernatural books, but the supernatural element isn’t hitting them in the head.

Or anyone who checks out Novelist and finds it on their suggested reads. 🙂

National Library Week: Right to Read Day

National Library Week is April 23-29, 2023, a time celebrate our nation’s libraries, library workers’ contributions, and promote library use and support. This year’s theme is There’s More to the Story.

Today is Right to Read Day, a call to action to fight back against censorship to defend, protect, and celebrate your right to read freely.

Right to Read Day: Protect Your Right to Read, April 24, 2023

The American Library Association has also released its most challenged books of 2022 as part of its State of American Libraries 2022 report [link to webpage containing pdf]. ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago and nearly doubling the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. While other instances of book challenges or removals may have occurred, these are the ones reported to the ALA.

In 2022, 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship.

Removing a book from a collection due to inaccuracies, age, or condition (something libraries often do in order to provide the best resources to their users) is different than banning or requesting to ban a book– most books that are challenged because they represent marginalized communities, have “profane” or “offensive” language or content, or disagree with someone’s political, religious, or social viewpoint. In 2022, books containing LGBTQIA+ content were the top challenged materials. Self-selection and choosing to not read a book because you disagree with it is different than requesting to remove it from a collection so no one can read it.

Keep reading for ways that you can advocate for libraries, including how to read some of 2022’s most challenged books and decide for yourself.

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International Women’s Day: #EmbraceEquity

March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD). This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.

Inclusion should be intersectional and is for all ages. We can all be allies to #EmbraceEquity.

Available in the Main Campus Children’s Collection (PZ 7.2 .J64 Int 2019)

(Wait, what does intersectionality have to do with IWD? All forms of inequality are mutually reinforcing and must therefore be analyzed and addressed simultaneously to prevent one form of inequality from reinforcing another. Want to learn more about intersectionality? Check out the Center for Intersectional Justice for more information.)

Closing gender gaps has broad multi-generational benefits for societies, including economic benefits and increased investment in education, health, nutrition, and housing.

Keep reading for a streaming video to learn more about women in global history, information about the UN Women’s DigitALL campaign (and some books from the library to explore that topic further), and how to support and #EmbraceEquity for International Women’s Day and every day.

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Celebrating OER Week at Durham Tech

March 6-10 is Open Education Week!

Open Educational Resources (OER) are high-quality educational materials that are available for free in the public domain and can be retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed under Creative Commons licensing. These materials can be textbooks, research documents, or instructional tools, among other things.

Durham Tech has already awarded stipends for OER adoption to almost 20 instructors, and the OER Task Force is pleased to announce Spring 2023 stipends for instructors using open educational resources!

Many faculty members may already be using OER in the classroom without even realizing it, so check out the detailed guide to OER (Durham Tech OER LibGuide).

To be eligible to receive a stipend, you must be a Durham Tech instructor who is 1) already using OER in your classes this semester and 2) who did not receive a stipend for OER in Fall 2022. Only one stipend will be awarded per instructor.

The deadline to apply using the stipend application form is Friday, March 31st by 5pm. Once the deadline has passed, the task force will evaluate the applications using the 5 R’s of OER (Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute – see the link for a detailed guide to OER for more info on these Rs).

Keep reading to learn more about OER and faculty should look for more communication from the OER Taskforce in the coming weeks!

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Durham Tech’s Favorites for Black History Month

It’s nearing the end of Black History Month, so while our blog post topics may broaden, we’d like to leave you with some books by Black Americans that have made an impact on the Durham Tech community to read beyond just February because Black history is American history all year long.

Keep reading for Durham Tech’s favorite reads by Black American authors–fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, environmental justice, social justice, criminal justice, economics, fantasy, and finance–, and for a documentary exploring if Black History Month accomplishes what it sets out to do.

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Contemporary Black Activists and Advocates

This week’s Black History Month post highlights contemporary activist and advocates and their works, but also highlights some folks closer to home.

North Carolina has a history of Black advocates and activists–in no particular chronological order–from Pauli Murray to Ann Atwater to James Shepard to Ella Baker to the Greensboro Four (Franklin McCain, Jibreel Khazan, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond) to Nina Simone to the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II.

Two time Durham university graduate (NC Central and Duke), Rev. Barber is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow (also known as the “Genius” grants), one of the revivers of The Poor People’s Campaign, a founder of Moral Mondays and its expansion project Repairers of the Breach, organizer, activist, and intersectional advocate.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II; Photo credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

“We must find a way to make clear today that the moral and constitutional crisis we face in America is not just about Republicans versus Democrats or liberal versus conservative. It is really instead about fundamental right against wrong, fundamental humanity, who we will write off and who we will include.”

from “Forward together, not one step back” [speech], UC Berkley, 19 April 2019.

Rev. Barber has published several books that are available through the Durham Tech Library.

Keep reading for more books by contemporary advocates and activists in the Durham Tech Library collections and for a link to tour Durham’s civil rights legacy in murals (and some multimedia).

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Black Wordsmiths: Black Musicians & Poets in the Durham Tech Library Collection

"BLK History Month" by Nikki Giovanni. If Black History Month is not viable then wind does not carry the seeds and drop them on fertile ground rain does not dampen the land and encourage the seeds to root sun does not warm the earth and kiss the seedlings and tell them plain: You’re As Good As Anybody Else You’ve Got A Place Here, Too

This week’s Black History Month post highlights Black creators in poetry and music, including pop, hip hop, rap, punk, and rock. This is only a small selection of our collection, so stop by and browse our digital collections from your own computer or stop in and browse our shelves.

Updated 2/15/2023: Want some poetry bookmarks? Go to the end of the post!

Interested in learning how to make your own music using only a laptop? Check out this awesome event through the Wake County Public Libraries featuring Durham’s Pierce Freelon. Registration is requested and is free.

Hip Hop Beat Making with Pierce Freelon, Saturday, February 25 from 4:00-5:00 PM at the Oberlin Regional Library (1930 Clark Ave, Raleigh, NC 27605). Registration is requested and free.

Explore music production and entrepreneurship by learning how to compose, sample, and write a song using only a laptop with Grammy-nominated musician and co-creator of PBS’s Beat Making Lab.

Be sure to check out the other Black History Month events through the Wake County Public Library’s “Celebrating Black Brilliance” series.

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