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The Gloucester branch of a national chain of book stores has joined the fight against mental health stigma.

Waterstones, in Eastgate Street, has hosted a weekly reading group of service users from ²gether NHS Foundation Trust for more than two years.

The group, which is managed by ²gether Recovery College worker Jackie Webb, reads a selection of books, newspaper articles and poems together. Discussion then follows on what has been read.

Jackie said: “The group meetings involve between five and 12 service users in general, and it’s an opportunity for people recovering from mental illness to join together, socialise, enjoy reading and get into a regular routine in the community.

“It’s also very relaxing and therapeutic. The staff at Waterstones have been very welcoming and the group is so successful that we’ve got a waiting list.”

Waterstones has now mounted a display of materials aimed at highlighting sources of mental health and wellbeing support near its ‘self help’ section.

Store manager Katharine Seymour said: “We know that reading can be very therapeutic and there are many books that we stock that are aimed at helping to improve mental health.

“We’re very happy to host the weekly reading group and want to do everything we can to encourage people to speak openly about mental health and tackle stigma which often prevents people from speaking up and seeking help.”

One in four people is experiencing a mental health condition at any given time. ²gether’s Let’s Talk service provides courses and therapy to people experiencing conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Ring 0800 073 2200 to find out what Let’s Talk can offer, or visit www.talk²gether.nhs.uk.

Other sources of online support include www.time-to-change.org.uk, www.mind.org.uk and www.mentalhealthfoundation.org.uk. You can also ring the Samaritans on 116 123.