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Libraries begin stocking self-help books for depression

GPs will be able to direct people with conditions such as depression, phobias and eating disorders to self-help books in their local library under a scheme starting today.

The ‘Reading Well: Books on Prescription’ scheme supplies books based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help people understand and self-manage common mental health conditions.

The scheme was launched last week by independent charity The Reading Agency, the Society of Chief Librarians and local library services.

Books will be made available in participating libraries from from today. The scheme is supported by NICE guidelines, the RCGP and the Royal College of Nursing.

At the launch of the scheme, Dr James Kingsland, a GP in Merseyside and national clinical lead for NHS clinical commissioning, said: ‘Reading Well: Books on Prescription is brilliant. It will enable me and my fellow GPs to recommend book-based CBT from libraries. This can be a stand-alone treatment or alongside medication and other psychological interventions.’

Health minister Norman Lamb said: ‘I am glad to see that such books will be publicly and readily accessible on library shelves, encouraging dialogue and underlining what I have always believed – that mental health is everyone’s business.’

A study published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year recommended that self-help books or websites should be offered routinely to patients with severe depression, as they can result in improvements in symptom scores.

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