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RCGP backs scheme to prescribe self-help books for depression

The RCGP has backed a scheme for GPs to prescribe self-help books to patients suffering with anxiety, depression or relationship problem.

As part of the initiative launched by the Reading Agency charity, GPs are asked to advise patients suffering with mental health issues to visit a local library and read a selection of books ranging from binge eating, anger, sleeping problems and social problems.

The Arts Council is providing funding of £20,000 to libraries to stock these self-help books.  

Research carried out over the past year has compared the effectiveness of self-help books with support sessions, which is the usual form of treatment for mild depression.

Miranda McKearney, chief executive of the Reading Agency project said these trials showed that self-help books were effective. She added: ‘There is growing evidence base that shows that self-helping reading can help people with certain mental health conditions to get better.’

She said 6 million people in the UK suffer from anxiety and depression, and around two thirds of those people were not receiving any kind of treatment.

An RCGP spokesperson said: ‘The college has endorsed the project, which will go live in May this year.’

Dr Paul Blenkiron, consultant in adult psychiatry at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said the self-help books is ‘something the NHS should be investing in.’.

But he added self-help books would not be suitable for every patient: ‘The key thing is that the person is commited to doing some work.’

The self-help books will be in libraries from May this year and include Overcoming Relationship Problems by Michael Crowe, The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns, and How to Stop Worrying by Frank Tallis.

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