East Sussex ‘Books on Prescription’ scheme goes nationwide

A scheme offering ‘books on prescription’ to people in East Sussex with mental health problems is to be rolled out nationwide.

East Sussex County Council was one of the first authorities in the country to introduce the service, in which GPs ‘prescribe’ to people suffering common disorders such as anxiety and depression books they can borrow for free from their local library.

The scheme, a partnership between the county council’s library and information service and the NHS, was launched in Hastings in 2006 and across the county in 2009 with recommended books for adults. Books for families and young people were introduced in 2011.

Following the success of the scheme in East Sussex, the service is to be introduced throughout England under the banner Reading Well: Books on Prescription, with the launch to be marked by a series of events at East Sussex libraries in June.

Councillor Chris Dowling, county council lead member for community services, said: “There is an enormous need for help understanding and managing common mental health problems and with the right resources, many of these conditions can be managed independently.

“Books on Prescription is not designed to replace existing care but can be a useful addition to pharmacological treatment or a first step to recovery for the millions of people who are suffering in silence at the moment.

“Evidence tells us that many people see the local library as a trusted place to go for health information and a library visit can be the first step on the road to recovery.”

One in four people in East Sussex suffers from mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, phobias, panic attacks, eating disorders or sleeping problems at some point in their lifetime.

The books offered as part of the scheme use proven cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help people tackle the thoughts and behaviours which cause them problems in a structured, step-by-step way.

All the books are recommended and approved by national health organisations including the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Mind.

Local launch events will be held to enable people to find out more about the scheme, look at the books and find out how libraries can help people improve their health and wellbeing.

The events, run in partnership with mental health service Health In Mind and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, will be held on the following dates.

– Monday 10 June 2013 (noon-2pm) – Hastings Library– Wednesday 12 June 2013 (noon-2pm) – Uckfield Library– Thursday 13 June 2013 (noon-2pm) – Eastbourne Library– Friday 14 June 2013 (noon-2pm) – Lewes Library

People can find out more information by going online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/selfhelpbooks calling 01273 335383 or asking their GP.

Further information

Reading Well: Books On Prescription is a joint initiative from independent charity The Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians, working with local library services and supported by the Department of Health Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (IAPT), Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Nursing, British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, The British Psychological Society and mental health charity Mind.

A full list of books available, which include audio books and foreign language titles, can be viewed online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/selfhelpbooks

A review of the evidence relating to the effectiveness of self-help books based on the principles of CBT is available at www.readingagency.org.uk/readingwell