Reading Well Books on Prescription
is an early intervention service

to help people understand
and manage their mental health.

So, basically, it provides
a core book list of accredited titles

that have all been recommended
by health professionals,

covering a whole range of
common mental health conditions,

such as anxiety, depression,
phobias, some eating disorders.

The books can be recommended by health
professionals, or used on their own.

They're all available
from public libraries.

It's very much a collaborative process.

We provide the books.
The health organisation promote them.

Together we can make a difference
to people's lives.

One of the main things for me
has been reading and self-help reading.

I found it to be an amazing help

and I have lots and lots of books
that I kind of dip in and out of

as I'm kind of going around.

Books on Prescription allows us
to actually make a prescription

to our local library
for a range of accredited books.

It's not just the GP.

It might be another health care
professional in the practice.

It might be one of our counsellors,
our practice nurse,

who advises that there are
reading materials

accredited through
nationally recognised agencies,

whether it be the Royal College of
Psychiatrists and General Practice,

but this is an approved list of books,

and actually advise them,
on a prescription,

which books might be helpful.

When you Google a list of books
for any condition,

what will come up
is a huge range of material,

which is really difficult
to navigate your way through

and to know which to select.

What we've done is work with
health professionals

to select a range of material
where there's a strong evidence base

and where the material has been proven
to be effective and useful.

I think the value of the scheme

is the same books are all available
in every single library in England.

I think that reading
is a very important thing

because I think that it's something
that you can do on your own.

It's something
that you can get involved in.

Especially when certain...

..diagnoses, depression and anxiety,

can cause people to feel very insular.

I know I've experienced
quite intense times of this

and I think that reading is a wonderful
thing because you're not being crowded.

It's something that you can take on
in your own time

and as you feel ready for it.

So the books are all out
on the open shelves.

If it's not on the shelf,
they will offer a free reservation,

or they can go online
and reserve it online

and pick it up
in any library of their choice.

The other advantage in some libraries
is they have a thing called self issue,

which enables the person
to take books out through a kiosk.

So what they can do in these libraries
is take the book, put it in the kiosk,

it issues them, they bring it back,
put it back in the kiosk,

don't see a member of staff at all.

For a lot of people I think that would
enable them to take the books out

without being sensitive
about what book they're taking out.

When you're in those stages
of depression or anxiety,

actually getting out, and coming out
and doing things, can be a real strain.

I think that to be able to come into
a library and to find the book in there,

but also within the library
you've got...

You've got people within there
that can be a lot more understanding,

but also you've got films, CDs, all
sorts of things that go on in libraries.

You can even maybe
get on the internet as well.

I think that it's really beneficial.

There is a growing evidence base.

NICE, for example, have got good
evidence that this type of service,

not just the books on prescription,
but this type of self-care

does produce real, tangible benefits
for the health of the individual.

All the evidence shows
that self-help reading

works best as part of
a supported programme,

so if you're working with
a doctor or a health professional.

But there's also evidence to show that
unsupported self-help can be effective.

So I think that for some people,
it may be the first step to take a book

and have a look
and see if it helps them.

They may then feel that
that's enough support,

or they may want to go on
and see a doctor,

see their local GP
or health professional,

to get some further advice
and support with the programme.

This isn't instead of any other
treatment. It's as well as.

I just think it's great
because it's options.

Options are so vital.

You're learning about certain tools
and techniques and things

that can really benefit your life
and help you to grow.

We worked really hard to make sure the
content is as accessible as possible,

so many of the books are available
in a range of formats,

including large print, Braille,
audio and eBook format.

And as we move forward with the scheme,
we'll be really working hard

to build the accessibility
of that content

and make sure it's available in
as wide a range of formats as possible.

When I started getting and learning
about the different techniques

and started applying them into my life,

I was finding, finally, there was coming
quite a peace into my world.

Really, it's kind of, I suppose,

completely changed my life.

You can go down to your local library
and ask about the scheme

and pick up a leaflet there.

You can ask at your local GP
or your mental health professional.

Or you can look on
the Reading Agency website,

where you'll find
all the information you need.

The website address is

For the list of books available go to: