- The Reading Agency and libraries reveal the top ten most popular mental health boosting books for British teens
- Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tops the list of popular titles
- GPs are prescribing books to young people experiencing mental health issues
- Public libraries have seen an 263% increase in lending of the books on the prescribed reading list
10 October 2016: New figures reveal a spike in loans for an expert-endorsed reading list for young people facing mental health concerns.
Public Lending Right data, released today, shows that loans of the 35 titles on the Reading Well for young people scheme have quadrupled, compared with the same period in the previous year. Teenagers taking part in the scheme run by The Reading Agency, the Society of Chief Librarians and the Association of Senior Children's and Education Librarians are discovering the positive effect of reading on mental health and wellbeing.
With 1 in 10 young people experiencing mental health issues, it's not just self-help books that British teens are turning to for support with anxiety, depression, eating disorders or other mental health conditions and difficult life experiences. Young people between the ages of 13 and 18 are cracking the spines of well-known novels such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Also proving popular were non-fiction titles including Mind your Head by Juno Dawson and The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism, by Naoki Higashida.
The top ten most popular books from the list, according to Public Lending Right data, include:
1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
2. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
3. Every Day by David Levithan
4. The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida
5. Quiet the Mind by Matthew Johnstone
6. The Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan
7. Blame My Brain: The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed by Nicola Morgan
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
9. Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson
10. Stuff that Sucks by Ben Sedley
The health and wellbeing benefits of reading
Reading for pleasure has been linked to a reduction in the symptoms of depression and people who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.
Reading Well for young people, launched in April 2016, provides 13-18 year olds with a unique catalogue of 35 books recommended by health professionals and young people with first-hand experience of mental health issues. The books are available to borrow for free from 93% of library authorities in England.
Debbie Hicks, Creative Director of The Reading Agency says:
"Books are an integral part of the mental health first-aid kit that teenagers have at their disposal. It's important that young people view public libraries as a trusted and safe place to go to for information about mental health issues.
"Reading offers teenagers help, advice and support to deal with the pressures of modern life. It's great to see British teenagers are borrowing the Reading Well for young people titles to improve mental health and wellbeing."
Neil McInnes, President of the Society of Chief Librarians, says:
"Libraries play an important role in public health in local communities, offering health resources, space to talk, books and advice. As part of the Universal Health and Reading Offers this project proves how beneficial reading is for mental health and wellbeing. We are thrilled with the success of this programme and look forward to working with our partners on more health initiatives in libraries."
Dr Paul Blenkiron, Consultant in Adult Psychiatry, Leeds and York NHS Foundation Trust, NICE Fellow was part of the critical friends group behind Reading Well, which meets regularly to support the development of the scheme and the booklists. He says:
"With the pressures on young people probably greater than ever before, this scheme provides vital, frontline support to those who develop mental health issues. Reading Well have created a list of 35 expert-endorsed titles that are freely available for anyone to borrow from their local library. It's a real example of integrated care. I am sure that GPs and other health professionals will value this fantastic scheme that brings 'shelf help' to young people in such an accessible way"
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