Rochdale Borough Libraries is working together with GPs, health and social care professionals in an innovative scheme to help people with mental health problems.
The Books on Prescription scheme was launched at Rochdale Central Library in One Riverside, on Monday, 24 February and included talks by Linda Fisher, Deputy Chief Executive of Rochdale Borough Council, who is championing the scheme, and Dr Michael Taylor, who talked from a GP’s perspective about the benefits of the scheme.
As part of the scheme, doctors or other health professionals will prescribe patients with mild to moderate mental health problems books to read. The titles are mostly self-help books to give advice, information and tasks that aim to make people feel better. There are books to help with conditions such as challenging behaviour, bereavement, anxiety, anger management, low confidence, stress, bullying and family problems among others, and all been reviewed and recommended by health professionals.
Councillor Colin Lambert, Cabinet Member for Health, said: “This scheme will help people take control of their lives, their conditions and help them help themselves and their families.”
Patients, parents or carers will take a ‘prescription’ slip to their local library, along with their library card, to take out the book. If it is not available it can be reserved free-of-charge. Anyone who is not a member can join the library for free. Books can be renewed if not finished by their return date, providing no-one else is waiting for it. All borrower details will be kept strictly confidential by library staff.
Wendy Meston, Director for Public Health at Rochdale Borough Council is confident the scheme will help many people: “One in four people will experience mental health problems during their lives. Evidence is that book-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help people understand and manage common mental health problems.
“Making these self-help books available in all libraries across our borough will offer many people a vital lifeline on their doorsteps.”
For the first time titles are available for children, young people and families, as well as adults. The Council has also been successful in securing funding for books that might support current or ex-Armed Forces personnel, as part of its commitment to delivering the Armed Forces Community Covenant.
Councillor Alan McCarthy, Lead Member for the Armed Forces at Rochdale Borough Council, said he is excited by the potential of the scheme and added: “So many of our Armed Forces need our support following their service, so this is a fantastic way to channel that support without resorting to the conventional methods which are often prescribed. The magic of learning through books can be so inspirational and can often make the difference between mental unrest and peace of mind.”
Shelves have also been stocked with ‘mood booster’ reads such as uplifting novels, non-fiction and poetry recommended by other readers. A prescription is not needed to take out any of these books.
For more information about the Books on Prescription scheme or to join the library visit www.rochdale.gov.uk/libraries
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