Successful bibliotherapy project rolls out in Wales, enabling health professionals to prescribe free library books to support mental health and wellbeing
This week marks the start of a new chapter in mental health support for residents in Wales, as the Reading Well Books on Prescription for Mental Health Scheme is launched across the country.
Health professionals will have the ability to prescribe books that will be available, for free, from 22 local libraries across Wales. These books have been selected to support people experiencing mental health challenges or facing difficult life experiences.
While this collection of books will be recommended by health professionals, library users without reading prescriptions can choose the titles too, meaning there are no barriers to accessing this support.
The Reading Well scheme was originally launched in England, and saw more than two million Reading Well books borrowed by 931,000 people, as part of the bibliotherapy initiative.
One in four of us will face a mental health issue at some point in our lives. Reading has proven power to help people manage their own mental health and wellbeing.
The Reading Agency, one of the scheme’s founding organisations, is now building upon this success by working with the Welsh Book Council to translate a large number of texts on offer and to ensure that all materials are billingual to encourage the widest possible take up.
Titles in Wales’ Reading Well scheme include inspirational personal stories such as Reasons to Stay Alive by award-winning author Matt Haig, The Recovery Letters, an anthology of heartfelt letters written by people who have recovered or are recovering from depression, Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving by Julia Samuel and Sathnam Sanghera’s The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton. There are 37 books in the collection, in total.
Debbie Hicks, The Reading Agency’s creative director, commented on the scheme's launch, saying: "One in four of us will face a mental health issue at some point in our lives. Reading has proven power to help people manage their own mental health and wellbeing. We are delighted to be launching this life-changing programme in Wales, with many of the books available in Welsh for the first time, enabling the scheme to reach even more people."
The beauty of this scheme is that it recommends the very best books and delivers them freely through the public library service
Consultant clinical psychologist and founder of the original Book Prescription Wales initiative, Professor Neil Frude, said: "The beauty of this scheme is that it recommends the very best books and delivers them freely through the public library service. In this way, the scheme has the added benefit of bringing more people into the library, that precious community asset, where they will find many other resources that can help to boost their wellbeing, to build resilience and to thrive."
The Reading Well Books on Prescription for Mental Health scheme has been developed by The Reading Agency and public libraries, leading health organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mind, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Nursing, as well as individuals who have personal experience of mental health needs and their relatives and carers.
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