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A new scheme set up to improve people’s mental health through reading is to benefit people across Gloucestershire.

The Reading Well scheme was given its national launch earlier this week by The Society of Chief Librarians and the Reading Agency.

In Gloucestershire it will build upon the already successful Books on Prescription scheme which has been running for some years.

In order to highlight the scheme and raise its profile locally, staff from the ²gether NHS Foundation Trust will be visiting libraries and speaking to readers countywide throughout the rest of the month.

Alison Sedgwick-Taylor, Clinical Lead for the Trust’s Let’s Talk service, said there was a lot of evidence that reading self help books could help people suffering from mild to moderate mental health conditions to manage their own health and well-being. Even greater benefit could be derived if the person is supported by a health practitioner whilst they are learning from the book.

She said: “The Books on Prescription scheme has been running in Gloucestershire since 2005, when it was started by Gloucestershire Libraries and Information, the Primary Care Trusts and the Primary Mental Health Service.

“The national Reading Well scheme is a very welcome development, building as it does on the success of our scheme and a number of others.

“We have seen some great successes with people who are able to manage their own mental health issues through reading, and we now hope to promote this scheme more widely.

“I’d encourage anyone interested in finding out more to speak to one of our staff when they visit libraries throughout the rest of the month and take some positive action to improve their mental wellbeing.

“Anyone struggling with anxiety and depression who wants support and guidance can also get in touch with Let’s Talk on 0800 073 2200.”

Cllr Kathy Williams, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for long term care, said: “Reading is just one of many ways in which people with mental health issues can learn about their condition, but in their own time and at their own pace. The Books on Prescription scheme that already operates at the county’s libraries has shown how popular services like these can be and I hope the Reading Well programme will prove to be just as successful.”

Under the Books on Prescription scheme health professionals including GPs are able to ‘prescribe’ a self-help book to their patients from an approved list.  The patient takes the ‘prescription’ to a library to be ‘dispensed’ for a suggested loan period. However, library users can also borrow the self help books without the need for a prescription.

Books on the list have been carefully selected, and are designed to cover a range of mild to moderate mental health problems including stress, anxiety, phobias, anger, depression, OCD, panic and more.

The new Reading Well scheme is supported by the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, Nursing and Psychiatrists, the Department of Health through its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme (IAPT), the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, The British Psychological Society and Mind.

Therapists from ²gether’s Let’s Talk service will be paying visits to libraries to speak to people about the scheme and how it might help them on the following dates:

· Monday June 10. Gloucester, between 10am and 12 noon
· Monday June 10. Stroud, between 2 and 4pm
· Wednesday June 12. Cheltenham, between 10am and 12 noon
· Monday June 17. Coleford, between 11am and 1pm
· Tuesday June 18. Tewkesbury, between 10am and 12 noon
· Wednesday June 19. Dursley, between 10am and 12noon
· Tuesday June 25. Newent, between 2 and 4pm
· Wednesday June 26. Stow on the Wold, between 10am and 12 noon
· Thursday June 27. Cirencester, between 10am and 12noon

To find the location of your local library, click here