The “life-saving” 2018 ‘Reading Well for mental health’ titles by The Reading Agency and Society of Chief Librarians were announced at a flagship event at the Wellcome Trust on 5 June. Each title will offer invaluable support to people with mental health needs and their carers, who are at increased risk of loneliness according to recent research.
2018’s powerful book list, which will help people read well to stay well, is penned by bestselling and highly-regarded authors including Matt Haig (How to Stay Alive); Cathy Rentzenbrink (A Manual for Heartache); Sathnam Sanghera (The Boy with the Topknot); Ruby Wax (A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled) and many more. The expert-endorsed reads are available free in Wokingham Borough Libraries as well as in other participating libraries across England
Matt Haig says: “Reading Well is an absolutely brilliant scheme that recognises the true proven therapeutic power of words. It will help people facing mental struggles to feel understood, and to get help. This scheme will improve, and maybe even save, many lives”
Since its launch in 2013, the Reading Well programme has impacted the lives of over 778,000 people in the UK. Katie Clarke-Day, who lives with multiple long-term conditions, has helped co-produce the scheme with the Reading Agency and Society of Chief Librarians. She was engaged in everything from book selection to shaping the language and images used in Reading Well materials. Katie believes this scheme has the power to save lives and combat isolation.
Katie Clarke-Day, Reading Well co-producer from the Coalition for Collaborative Care, says: “Mental health issues are still shrouded in stigma. They are also by their nature isolating and scary. There is a lot of information contained within these books that could save lives, sometimes just the simple recognition that the way you feel has a name or that other people felt this too. I don’t think we can underestimate the power of this list … I also have a lot of respect for libraries both in terms of the wealth of knowledge stored in the books they contain but also in the community space and hub of activity they provide for so many people across the country.”
Wokingham Libraries supports the mental health agenda by providing a number of activities at its branches. Currently customers can join book and creative writing groups, reminiscence groups, games and craft groups. All of these activities can help to end social isolation, people enjoy getting together regularly and they often make lasting friends. Our events can be viewed at http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/whats-on-in-our-libraries/
The list is curated with mental health experts and includes books to support people undergoing talking therapies, as well as guided and unguided self-help.
This year the government appointed a Minister for Loneliness to address the growing “loneliness epidemic”, and in April 2018 the Office for National Statistics released a report raising awareness of the link between health and isolation. People with a health condition are 56% more likely to report loneliness than those without, and those with caring responsibilities were 37% more likely to be lonely.
Journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera experienced first-hand the challenges of growing up with relatives living with mental health conditions: his father and eldest sister had schizophrenia. This inspired his touching Sunday Times bestselling memoir, which was adapted for television – The Boy with the Topknot. It has been chosen as one of the 2018 ‘Reading Well for mental health’ books.
Sathnam Sanghera, Reading Well author, says: “It is said that we read to know we are not alone, and this is especially the case with mental health, one of the most isolating diseases around. Hopefully initiatives like this make sufferers and their carers feel less lonely.”
Reading Well helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The scheme is endorsed by health professionals and supported by public libraries. Health professionals involved in the book selection process never have any conflict of interest with the titles selected for each book list. There are currently four book lists available: Reading Well for mental health (replacing Reading Well for common mental health conditions, first launched in 2013), Reading Well for dementia, Reading Well for young people, and Reading Well for long term conditions.