A new book prescription scheme, which will give GPs and other health professionals in South Glasgow and East Renfrewshire the opportunity to write ‘prescriptions' for self-help books, was officially launched today by Rhona Brankin, Deputy Health Minister.
The ‘Healthy Reading' scheme, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, has been set up by NHS Greater Glasgow's South-East Psychosocial Services (STEPS), in liaison with Glasgow City Council, East Renfrewshire Council, GPs and other health professionals – to give people with mild mental health problems speedy access to high quality psychological self help materials.
It is estimated that patients with common mental health problems such as anxiety or depression account for around 30% of all GP consultations.
If a GP or other health professional decides that a patient with a common mental health problem may benefit from a self-help book, they will be able to issue a prescription for it, chosen from a specially supplied list of some of the best self-help books available. Book prescriptions will be written on specially printed prescription pads. Patients can then take these to any of the libraries participating in the scheme, who will lend the prescribed book.
The service is free and confidential and is available to anyone who thinks they may benefit. Research evidence suggests that on their own self-help books can be very effective in helping people overcome mild mental health problems. Depending on individual need, a self help book can either be used on its own or alongside other treatments such as medication and counseling.
Although the ‘Healthy Reading' is the first scheme of its kind in Scotland, similar schemes are in operation elsewhere in the UK. In Cardiff, the scheme was so successful there are now plans to roll out it across Wales. It is hoped that the new scheme, which will initially involve libraries in the South-East of the city and parts of East Renfrewshire, will be rolled out across the city.
Most of the books in the scheme employ a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach and provide step-by-step self help treatment programmes which encourage readers to think about they way their thoughts, feelings and behaviour interact and impact on their well-being. Compared to medication, book therapy has many advantages - it can work quickly, it is generally more acceptable to patients, and importantly there are no side effects or withdrawal effects when treatment concludes.
Dr. Simon Petrie, Clinical Psychologist, STEPS, said: "Book therapy can really help with mild mental health problems - in some cases where book therapy has been used, patients haven't needed any further treatment."
"It can be used as part of a range of treatments and does have a positive impact on many people, although it's not suitable for everyone. The benefits of book therapy begin when a person begins reading their book, so it's a really fast, effective way of tackling mild mental health problems head-on."
Councillor John Lynch, convener of Glasgow City Council's Cultural and Leisure Services, said: "The Healthy Reading scheme meets one of the Council's key objectives by promoting social inclusion and tackling poverty and improving health and well-being."
Deputy Health Minister Rhona Brankin said: "I am delighted to be able to attend the launch of the Healthy Reading initiative. It is vital that we raise awareness of mental health issues and promote positive mental wellbeing and this project will help to do this.
"It is very encouraging to see that the group of local libraries involved now have a special lending collection of around 200 books on mild to moderate mental health problems. This is an extremely valuable resource for local people.
"A key element of this project is the introduction of Scotland's first GP Prescription Scheme for books and information on 20 key problem areas in mental health. This builds on the principle that self-care is key to a patient-centred health service.
"This initiative is an excellent example of partnership working between the NHSScotland and local authorities."
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Note to editors:
NHS Greater Glasgow's South-East Psychosocial Services (STEPS) provides specialist community-based services to adults with mild to moderate mental health problems within South East Glasgow Local Health Care Co-operative (LHCC). Information at Glasgow City Council libraries is available in various media - books, leaflets and Internet. Access to the information is free (including free Internet access). Seven libraries in Glasgow are involved - Castlemilk, Couper, Gorbals, Govanhill, Langside, Pollokshaws, & Pollokshields. Libraries are safe, easily accessible and neutral venues that are well used by all ages within the community.