Library service launches new scheme to support young people's mental health

12 April 2016

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Library Service is today launching a scheme to support young people’s mental health by providing expert books available to borrow for free.
 
Reading Well for Young People is a national scheme, part of the hugely successful Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, which will provide 13-18 year-olds with high-quality information, support and advice on a wide-range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm, and difficult life pressures, like bullying and exams.
 
The proportion of 15-16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years and there is an enormous need for quality assured mental health information and advice for young people.
 
Co-created with a panel of young people who have had experience of mental health issues, the new Reading Well scheme helps young people to understand and manage their wellbeing and emotional resilience.  The books can be recommended by GPs, school nurses, counsellors and other health professionals as well as being free to borrow from the library.
 
Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Wellbeing, said: “This important new scheme uses libraries, books and reading to reach out to young people to help them manage their mental health and wellbeing, and cope with the pressures of modern life. Libraries can play a key role in the health our communities by providing free access to advice and information for everyone.” Reading Well for young People’s recommended reading list of 35 books were selected by mental health experts and young people.
 
The list includes a wide range of self-help and information titles, as well as memoir, graphic novels and fiction, from hugely influential novels The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and popular non-fiction such as Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson, Blame My Brain: The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed by Nicola Morgan and self-help guides Banish Your Body Image Thief and Breaking Free from OCD.

Gaby, a Young Advisor from YoungMinds who helped select the books on the list, says: "I believe Reading Well will challenge stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding mental illness, educating young people about mental health in general. The easy accessibility of the books that are part of the scheme is key, enabling young people to explore the topic of mental health discretely and at a speed they are comfortable with."

The scheme is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians and the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians. It is funded by Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust. It is supported by a range of health organisations including NHS England (IAPT), Public Health England, Mental Health Foundation, Mind and YoungMinds.

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