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South Gloucestershire libraries help make positive impact on mental health

This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.

Published: 10/10/2014

Over 1,000 people have benefitted from the ground-breaking Reading Well Books on Prescription programme so far in South Gloucestershire, it was announced today on World Mental Health Day (Friday 10 October).

Reading Well Books on Prescription sees our library service working closely with LIFT Psychology, part of the South Gloucestershire Wellbeing therapies service, to offer book-based therapy for common mental health conditions. GPs and health professionals prescribe books through the scheme, but they are also available for anyone to borrow from any public library.

South Gloucestershire Council was the lead authority for the bid to the Arts Council England which resulted in the national scheme being implemented and then rolled out to public libraries across England. Since launching in June 2013, the national Books on Prescription scheme has reached around 275,000 people across England and has played an important role in helping to meet the huge need for mental health support.

Following the success of the programme, a new Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia scheme will be launched in South Gloucestershire libraries in January 2015.

Claire Young, Chair of Communities Committee said: “As mental health can affect one in four people it is important that the council works with all our partners to support people experiencing mental health issues. This unique partnership between libraries and mental health services has proved to be very popular and successful. We are delighted with the results and, along with our health partners, look forward to rolling out more national programmes like this one to help with a range of health needs.”

Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, said: “We want to build a fairer society with better mental health for everyone. I am delighted that the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme has been so effective in its first year and to hear that it has helped people understand more about their condition. This is about empowering and informing people which is so important. The new dementia scheme is an exciting development which I hope will be just as successful.”

Reading Well Books on Prescription has been endorsed by the public as well as by GPs, mental health professionals and government ministers as a helpful community-based mental health service. Public libraries across England have reported major success in supporting people’s mental health through the programme and loans of self-help books included in the scheme have more than doubled.

In a recent survey, nearly everyone who had borrowed a book from the Reading Well Books on Prescription core list of 30 book titles said that it had been helpful. Improved confidence around managing symptoms was also reported by nearly all of the GPs and health professionals surveyed who had prescribed books from the list, while just under half felt the scheme had saved them consultation time.

Reading Well Books on Prescription is delivered in conjunction with LIFT Psychology service and health centres throughout South Gloucestershire.

For more details of the scheme pick up a leaflet from your local library or visit

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