Devon libraries' self-help mental health scheme

A scheme encouraging people with mental health problems to use self-help books borrowed from their local library has begun in Devon.

Reading Well aims to help people with conditions including depression, anxiety, stress, phobias and eating disorders.

All 58 libraries in Devon are taking part in the project and will stock a core list of 30 titles.

Exeter GP Dr Niall Macleod said it could "reduce demand on the NHS".

'Managed independently'

The scheme is being run by Devon County Council, The Reading Agency charity and the Society of Chief Librarians.

The books have been recommended by experts in mental health.

Councillor Roger Croad, from Devon County Council, said: "With one in four people suffering mental ill-health each year, there is an enormous need for help understanding and managing common mental health conditions.

"Evidence shows that self-help books can really help people understand conditions such as depression or anxiety, and with the right resources many illnesses relating to mental health can be managed independently so there is no need for people to suffer in silence."

Dr Niall Macleod, a GP at The Heavitree Practice in Exeter and an ambassador for the Reading Well scheme, said: "This scheme is something that is definitely achievable, and has been shown to work.

"It makes it easy for patients to choose an alternative to medication, and could potentially reduce the demand on the NHS."

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