Binc’s 2021 Survey had the largest number of responses ever and included feedback from bookstore and comic shop employees and owners in all 50 states. The over 1,100 responses provided data that will inform the Foundation’s decisions and changes regarding communication, outreach, areas of focus, and programs.
Two of Binc’s 3 areas of focus for 2022 were determined based on feedback from the book and comics communities, and two pilot programs have been identified for implementation this year.
Number One Response
The number one response, from over 54% of survey participants, to the question of which program would have the greatest value to the bookstore and comics communities was: mental health therapy assistance. This mirrors information from the National Mental Health Institute, which reports one in five people are struggling with a mental health support need.
According to Mental Health America (MHA) 24.7% of Americans with mental illness are not able to get the mental health treatment they need due to reasons that include lack of insurance, undersized local mental health support network, and lack of funds for copay.
Binc’s pilot program is now in place and partners with the online BetterHelp platform to offer up to 8 sessions with a certified and licensed professional mental health therapist at no cost to the bookstore or comic shop employees or owners. The online counseling and therapy services are provided through the participants’ choice of web-based interaction, via phone, or text communication, and are available nationwide.
After 8 sessions, should the participant want to continue, they could add additional sessions paying themselves at Binc’s non-profit discounted rate. Participating in BetterHelp is completely confidential; Binc has no optics into who participates.
Interested employees and owners of bookstores and comic shops can complete the Assistance Inquiry form on Binc’s website.
Currently in development is a pilot for professional development skills training that will begin later in 2022, replacing the higher education scholarship program.
Survey feedback clarified the information Binc received from store owners and employees during 2020 and 2021: to survive and thrive during the pandemic bookstores and comic shops needed to adapt to new situations quickly. That could have meant creating a website and learning about SEO, expanding social media management, doing their own bookkeeping, creating a marketing campaign, or redesigning the merchandising and layout of the store.
To address the ongoing need for skills training, Binc’s pilot program will fund courses and certifications for employees and owners of bookstores and comic shops from accredited sources.
More details and a program roll-out are planned by Fall 2022