What would you think if you went along to a doctor and you were prescribed a self-help book instead of medication? Well, that¹s not so far-fetched as you might think.
A new project initiated by the UKs The Reading Agency called the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, has doctors now prescribing books to patients with mental health problems such as anger, anxiety, binge eating, depression, obsessions and compulsions, panic attacks, phobias, self-esteem, stress and worry.
The scheme, which works within clinical excellence guidelines, and is backed by the Royal Colleges of GPs, Nursing and Psychiatry, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the Department of Health. The aim is to bring reading’s healing benefits to sufferers of anxiety and depression.
According to the Reading Agency “there is growing evidence showing that self-help reading can help people with certain mental health conditions get better.”
GPs and mental health professionals can prescribe patients a visit to the library, where they show their prescription for one or more of 30 endorsed books with acknowledged cognitive behavioural therapy benefits.
Books on Prescription has made it to New Zealand and it’s also being implemented at Boab Health Services in the Kimberley region in Western Australia. According to Boab, “the best self-help books can be highly effective … many practitioners regularly recommend particular books to their clients or patients.”
The use of self-help books is known as ‘bibliotherapy’ - a coined term for the therapeutic use of books in the treatment of illness or personal problems.
A growing number of people are turning to books that discuss the mind-body connection or explain the relationship between consciousness and experience. This can be seen in the burgeoning number of books and magazines devoted to such topics.
Experts say the way to gauge a good self-help book is to ask if it’s one that brings inspiration, gives you a lift, encourages you to change your thinking or lifestyle, shows you how to be fearless and calm in difficult situations, or strengthens your mental resilience.
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