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Oregon school district taking new approach to helping kids with mental health concerns

Students in the North Bend School District can privately and anonymously access e-books on mental health from the district’s library website.

NORTH BEND, Ore — About one in five teens suffer from mental health challenges, but it's estimated that more than 75% percent don’t seek help. 

Laurie Nordahl understands that. As a teen, she wouldn’t have sought help either. 

"If I wanted to read about depression or anxiety or any mental health type of issue, I would have been too shy to take a book with that context to the desk and check it out," said Nordahl.

Today, Nordahl is a librarian at North Bend High School on the Oregon's Southern Coast. A few years ago, the school lost a student to suicide. Nordahl knew there were students just her like her, and that prompted her to invest a student mental health resource by Gale called "Cameron’s Collection." 

“I had some money in my budget that was allocated for something else, but I just took the dive and got the resources," said Nordahl.

Cameron’s Collection is a digital, social and emotional learning resource that lets students privately and anonymously access e-books about mental health and wellness from the school’s library website anytime from any location or device.

When pandemic started, Nordahl pushed for Cameron’s Collection to be available districtwide, not just at the high school. 

"I think that’s a wonderful thing. The more resources we have the better," said Jared Bower Solomon, a senior at North Bend High School. Solomon says the past year has been emotionally and mentally tough. Being isolated and away from school activities last year took at toll on the 19-year-old.

He started seeing a therapist but knows that's not a feasible option for many students. He said it's important for helpful resources to be easily accessible. 

All students in the school district now have access to hundreds of digital titles on a wide range of topics from stress and suicide to yoga and goal setting. 

"I got the resources so that hopefully we can help other students. Maybe if it helped only one kid, it would be worth it," said Nordahl.

In addition to North Bend School District, the following districts and schools in Oregon are using Cameron’s Collection:

  • Siuslaw School District (Florence, OR)
  • South Medford High School (Medford, OR)
  • Hermiston High School (Hermiston, OR)
  • Hermiston Middle School (Hermiston, OR)
  • Valor Middle School (Woodburn, OR)
  • Woodburn High School (Woodburn, OR)

Cameron’s Collection is a one-time purchase at the school or district level. 

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