School Counsellor Shirley Giroux started a book club in Valemount, B. C., to strengthen relationships between health and education professionals that were part of a local Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative (CYMHC). Giroux noticed that time-constraints of the CYMHC meetings prohibited informal or social discourse among the members. The book club was born as a way to help members learn more about each other’s work, and the resources and capacities available in the community.
Using a Healthy Schools BC Regional Grant, Giroux purchased books about mental health and social determinants of health, and food to incentivize participation. Social workers, mental health counsellors, nurses, teachers, educational assistants, school office managers and school administrators all attended the book club. The result was that participants increased their knowledge of who worked in the field. The book club also brought more mental health resources (i.e. books) into the community, and it helped members of the CYMHC build a common language and understanding of mental health topics. Giroux says, “We often struggle to get out of our silos, this work demonstrated it can be valuable, worthwhile, and fun!”