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Books Used to Beat the Blues in York


2:17pm 2nd December 2013

People tackling mental health issues have a brand new route to free treatment from City of York Council. In partnership with national health professionals, York’s Libraries are launching an innovative mental health self-help initiative.

The Books on Prescription scheme follows the opening of new reading café at a mental health treatment centre in the city, and enables GPs and mental health professionals to write a ‘book prescription’ as part of a patients’ cognitive behavioural therapy. This recommends reading from a set of 30 self-help books approved by health professionals and designed to help people address or manage health problems such as anxiety or depression.

The scheme is completely confidential with records of loans and the borrower’s details being handled along strict confidentiality guidelines.

The books can be ordered and borrowed from any library in York, including the mobile libraries and home library service. The full range is on display in Acomb and York Explore, Dunnington, Huntington, Strensall and Tang Hall libraries as well as Sycamore House Reading Café.

Councillor Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: “Anyone prescribed the books and who is not already a member of the library can join immediately using the book prescription as ID. They can borrow their choice of books and take them home for up to three weeks and, if there are no other requests for them, they can be easily renewed at any library or Explore centre or online at .

“This is yet another inspired example of innovation by York’s libraries which adds to its existing raft of support for the city. With the opening of the new Sycamore House Reading Café in October this year, in partnership with the councils’ Community Health Recovery Team, York’s libraries are helping remove the stigma of mental health issues while promoting self help for those already being treated. Although the initiative is set up for the Books on Prescription scheme, York Libraries and Archives welcome any library member to borrow from the collection.”

The initiative is driven by the Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians, and is endorsed by a number of national health bodies including the Royal Colleges of GPs, Nursing and Psychiatrists, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the Department of Health through its Improving Access to Psycological Therapies Programme.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, City of York Council’s Director of Health and Wellbeing, said: “One in four people experience some form of mental illness in their life times, so it’s something we should all be aware of whether we are supporting someone with it or we are prone to it ourselves. This reading list is a great idea to complement other therapies.”

Evidence from other schemes and from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) shows that, with practice and effort from patients, the books on prescription can help people with emotional problems.

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