Tuesday 12 April 2016: At a time when 1 in 10 young people have a diagnosable mental health issue,1 public libraries across England are today launching a scheme to support them with expert endorsed books available to borrow for free.
Reading Well for young people is part of the hugely successful Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme and 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.
With the proportion of 15-16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed having doubled in the last 30 years,2 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.
"A much needed, trusted source"
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:
"Libraries can play a significant role in the health of local communities by providing free access to advice and information for people of all ages. 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."
Officially launched today at the Wellcome Trust in London, 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 The Self-Esteem Team's Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!! to the self-help guides Banish Your Body Image Thief and Breaking Free from OCD.
Natasha Devon MBE, founder of the Self-Esteem Team, says:
"In a time when information on mental health is instantly accessible, abundant and mostly unverified one of the commonest questions the Self-Esteem Team are asked by young people is 'how do I know who I can trust?' That's why Reading Well provides such a crucial role in mental health and wellbeing; it is a much needed, trusted source and therefore a place where young people can feel that most important of all things - safe."
"Easy accessibility is key"
The books can be recommended by GPs, school nurses, counsellors and other health professionals and they're available for anyone to borrow for free from public libraries from April 2016.
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."
Public libraries have offered support to adults with common mental health needs since 2013 through Reading Well Books on Prescription, which was expanded in 2015 with a reading list for people with dementia and their carers. The scheme contributes to the central role that libraries play in supporting the health and wellbeing of local communities and provides a cost effective way to deliver community based mental health help, at around £1 per participant.
We are delivering the scheme 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.
Helping young people cope with the pressures of life
Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency and Ciara Eastell, President of the Society of Chief Librarians, say:
"The new Reading Well scheme has been designed to help young people cope with the pressures of life and feel more confident about dealing with difficult feelings and experiences. It is quality assured and evidence based and will be available through the public library network across the country, ensuring it will be a new frontline community service to support young people's wellbeing and emotional resilience. SCL and The Reading Agency are delighted to be working together with health partners and other networks such as schools and colleges to deliver this important new development in the public library health offer."
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council says:
"At the Arts Council, we've long-believed in the transformative powers of arts and culture for people's health - and libraries play a large part in this. The new Reading Well for Young People programme has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of young people and so I'm delighted that we have been able to invest in it."
Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture and Society at the Wellcome Trust, said:
"The Wellcome Trust is proud to be working with the Arts Council for England, the Society of Chief Librarians and The Reading Agency to support public libraries' universal health offer. Reading Well is one example of the power of public libraries to make us better, and to make our local communities better places."
Download resources to promote Reading Well at your library or organisation
See the full booklist
Visit our Reading Well website for resources for health professionals and more information about the Reading Well Books on Prescription schemes for adult mental health, and for people with dementia and their carers.
Order promotional materials, including leaflets containing the booklist, which can be used by health professionals to recommend titles.
1. [The Office for National Statistics, Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005]↩
2. [Changing Adolescence: Social Trends and Mental Health edited by Ann Hagell, Policy Press, 2012]↩