The Reading Well Books on Prescription Scheme is designed to give you more understanding of how to manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. It is endorsed by health professionals and was developed by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians, and is funded by the Arts Council England.
Under this joint scheme, books can be recommended by GPs or other health professionals from the relevant Reading Well Books on Prescription reading list. But anyone can self-refer to the scheme and use it without a professional recommendation.
First launched in June 2013 the list includes 30 self-help titles for common mental health conditions.
All the books are available in almost all English public libraries where they can be borrowed free of charge. The titles have been recommended by experts and have been tried and tested and found useful by giving advice and guidance on how to manage a wide range of mental health issues.
Recent research has demonstrated that many people see their library as a safe, trusted and non-stigmatised place to go for help with, and information about, their health problems.
There is strong evidence from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) that self-help reading can offer support to people with common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
Since the scheme began approximately 445,000 individual readers have been reached.
90% of people who borrowed a book from the Reading Well Books on Prescription from the common mental health conditions list say it has been helpful.
85% say that reading the books made them feel more confident about managing their symptoms.
55% reported that their symptoms had reduced as a result of reading the books.
There has been a 97% increase in library loans of titles on the list for common mental health conditions and a 300% increase in loans of titles on the list for people with dementia.
Reading Well Books on Prescription also helps people discover other library wellbeing services including Reading Well Mood-boosting Books and reading groups.
The Reading Well Mood-boosting Books scheme is a national promotion of uplifting titles, including novels, poetry and non-fiction. The books are all recommended by readers and reading groups.
It is also suggested that people using the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme may also like to try some mood-boosting fiction or poetry, but the books are not prescribed, endorsed or recommended by health professionals.
New book list for dementia
In January 2015, Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia was launched, which provides help and support for people with dementia, their carers and anyone who would like to find out more about the condition or is worried about symptoms.
The booklist is divided into four categories: information and advice; living well with dementia; support for relatives and carers; and personal stories.
A GP or other health professional may give you a Reading Well Books on Prescription leaflet and recommend one of the titles on the accompanying form, which should be available to borrow from your local library.
To find out more about Reading Well, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, tele-phone 020 7324 8909, or just go into your local library where they will be pleased to help.
‘Scared of being scared’
I’d been experiencing severe anxiety for several months. Even though I had come very calmly through past experiences of ill health, like cancer, I found myself scared of being scared about getting ill. I would find that, before I knew it, attacks were starting. I had no way of stopping them and they felt overwhelming. I’d always been a strong person and I felt lost and a failure.
I went to my GP with lots of worries and preconceptions. I thought she wouldn’t believe me, but despite my fears, she was wonderful. She really listened to me and didn’t try to undermine the terror I was feeling, or prescribe any sort of instant fix. Instead, she suggested that I read a book about anxiety from the Reading Well Books on Prescription list – Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Panic: A Five Areas Approach by Chris Williams. She explained what the book covered and suggested that I give it a try, and that she’d help me alongside it.
Visiting the library
I waited a whole month before I took my book prescription along to our local library in Sileby. Our village library is small and friendly, but as I handed over my prescription, I remember thinking that the librarian would be yet another person who’d know I hadn’t coped.
But the library staff were wonderful. While I was there I mentioned that I felt in the Dark Ages with my computer skills. The librarian signed me up for lessons and showed me how I could find other books on wellbeing.