Reading is good for you: Reading Related Activities
Reading and reading-centred activity can contribute to maintaining mental well-being and managing and addressing mental ill-health.
Bibliotherapy is the use of books and creative reading material to provide information and support and promote health and wellbeing.
The evidence from both health psychological and epidemiological research on the therapeutic effects of carefully designed reading projects is getting stronger. Experience or reading and talking book programmes for mental health and chronic diseases like heart failure in Barking and Dagenham is that reading carefully selected texts produced around specific health issues can increase self-efficacy and self-management, and help people thrive, rather than survive, through their health challenges (Jim McManus, Director of Public Health, Birmingham City Council)
It can be divided into three sub-sections:
- Self-help – the prescription of non-fiction, advisory books about mental health conditions such as depression
- Creative – the use of fiction, poetry, biographical writing and creative writing to improve mental health and well-being
- Informal – the use of creative bibliotherapy techniques in an unstructured manner, including reading groups, recommendations from (library) staff and displays in the library.
The majority of library based activity centres upon the first of these subsets with book prescription being the most common approach. Creative bibliotherapy models are less common but schemes such as Kirklees RAYS (Reading and You) uses reading with others to help people experiencing mild to moderate depression, stress, anxiety or social isolation, relax and talk about their feelings with benefits for their health and general well being.
An audit of bibliotherapy activity was undertaken in 2006.
The Reader Organisation
The Reader Organisation is a charity with a mission to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in sharing a wealth of literature.
The Reader worked with a number of local authorities and the NHS in Liverpool, Wirral, Salford and East Lancashire to develop the Get into Reading project, a leading social outreach project offering weekly reading groups for everyone. The group aims to improve wellbeing, build community cohesion? and extend reading pleasure and target hard-to-reach people. In 2006, Get into Reading was a finalist in the NHS Health and Social Care awards. For details of their current projects see Appendix 1
Get into Reading is exactly the kind of work we at the Department of Health want to develop over the next ten years – facing outward into the wider community and looking after the mental health and well being of the general population. (Professor Louis Appleby, National Director of Mental Health).
These facts are taken from a body of research which can be accessed by following this link: