Loans of self-help books from English public libraries have more than doubled since the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme was launched in June 2013.
Since its launch, the first national Books on Prescription scheme in England has reached about 275,000 people with book-based therapy for common mental health conditions available from public libraries, helping to meet the huge need for mental health support.
Recent figures indicate that around 8 million people in England experience anxiety or depression and with three-quarters of this group estimated to not be receiving treatment, the benefits of increased access to self-help books have been widely endorsed by GPs and mental health professionals.
Dr James Kingsland OBE, GP and president of the National Association of Primary Care, said: "The feedback I have had from patients has been incredibly positive, and it is brilliant to have the option of accredited book-based cognitive behavioural therapy available for free from public libraries.
"The scheme can be used as a stand-alone treatment, alongside medication or other psychological interventions and to offer support whilst on a waiting list or post treatment. This really is integrating care."
GPs and health professionals can prescribe books, but they are also available for anyone to borrow from their local library. While there are about 7,000 prescribers using the scheme, 80% of people who borrowed a book had self-referred by picking up a leaflet, often in their local library.
Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, added: "Libraries are an important feature in all communities, providing trusted, safe and valued places where people can find advice and information that can help people in so many parts of their lives. It’s great to hear that library book loans in this incredibly innovative scheme have doubled and I look forward to more good news about its success in 2015."
Improved confidence around managing symptoms was also reported by nearly all GPs and health professionals surveyed who had prescribed books from the list, and just under half felt the scheme had saved them consultation time.
In a recent survey, nearly everyone who had borrowed a book from the Reading Well Books on Prescription core list of 30 titles said it had been helpful. With evidence showing that self-help reading can benefit people with certain mental health conditions, 75% of people surveyed said their book had helped them understand more about their condition and feel more confident about managing their symptoms.
Reading Well Books on Dementia
Following the success of Reading Well Books on Prescription for common mental health conditions, a new dementia scheme will be launched in libraries in January 2015.
Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, concluded: "We want to build a fairer society with better mental health for everyone. I am delighted that the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme has been so effective in its first year and to hear that it has helped people understand more about their condition. This is about empowering and informing people which is so important. The new dementia scheme is an exciting development which I hope will be just as successful."
To see the full list of Reading Well books go to: www.readingagency.org.uk/readingwell/BOPcorelist