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Image of the Week: Books on Prescription

9 Oct, 2015
Reading Well Books on Prescription - user guide

Image credit: The Reading Agency

The Wellcome Trust is delighted to announce that we are now co-funding the Reading Agency’s project “Books on Prescription”. Working in partnership with The Society of Chief Librarians, Arts Council England, libraries, local and national health partners the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme helps people to understand and manage their health using accredited self-help reading material available from English public libraries. Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, explains more…

There is powerful evidence to show that reading is good for you. Recent research from national charity The Reading Agency proves it’s an all-round antidote, connecting people socially, building skills and confidence alongside empathy and understanding, supporting health literacy, boosting relaxation and helping people to understand and manage common mental health conditions such as depression. People with poor literacy are more likely to have poorer health than those who read well and often.

The power of reading lies in its versatility – there’s something for everyone. Novels can help you escape your worries, experience other perspectives and reflect on moments in your own life, while sharing reading with others can open up new friendships. At the other end of the reading and health spectrum lie self–help reading and book based therapy, working within clinical guidelines to help you to manage your mental health.

In a relatively short time, Reading Well Books on Prescription has moved from concept to practical delivery across nearly all English library authorities, offering much needed mental health and dementia support to half a million people so far. We have seen a doubling in library loans of titles featured on the mental health scheme and tripling those on the dementia list. Local libraries are the perfect place to access reading’s rich medicine chest -at the heart of local communities, they provide a vast range of therapeutic reading opportunities for everyone.

There have also been proven health benefits: 90% of people surveyed said their book had helped them understand their condition better, 85% said that it had made them feel more confident about managing symptoms and 55% felt symptoms had reduced.

We are delighted to be working with the Wellcome Trust to take the scheme to an exciting new phase that will increase access to the health benefits delivered by reading and public libraries.

It’s World Mental Health Day tomorrow (10th October), so pop into your local library and borrow a book – it’s good for your health!

Reading Well Books on Prescription booklists for common mental health conditions and for people with dementia and their carers can be found in English libraries. A new scheme supporting young people’s mental health will available in the spring and you can find out more on the Reading Agency website.

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