Books on Prescription scheme launched

A new initiative that encourages people to use libraries to discover self-help books has been formally launched.

The Reading Well: Books on Prescription scheme aims to help the estimated 6m people in the UK who suffer from anxiety and depression, with three quarters receiving no treatment. GPs and other health professionals will now be able to recommend a selection of 30 approved books which will be stocked at local libraries, which use cognitive behavioural therapy to to help people understand and manage conditions such anxiety, phobias, and some eating disorders.

Put together by The Reading Agency, the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), and local libraries, the scheme fits into the Universal Offers described by SCL earlier in the year, and designed as a framework for what public libraries should offer. A similar service has already been operating in Wales, but now it will be spread across England.

Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries, who attended the launch at the National Association of Primary Care yesterday (4th June) said: "Reading Well is an excellent example of how our libraries are offering new services to remain cornerstones of the communities they serve. Our public library service is thriving with 256m visits to England's 3,243 libraries in 2011-12. Innovative services like Reading Well will ensure libraries remain relevant and important to today¹s communities."

The scheme works within National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, and is supported by organisations such as The Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Psychiatrists.

GP James Kingsland, who is championing the scheme, said: "This can be used as a stand-alone treatment or alongside medication and other psychological interventions. This really is integrating care."