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June 27, 2006 3:09 PM

People in Glasgow with mild mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression could soon receive swift access to an extensive collection of self-help books thanks to a referral from their GP.

The ‘Healthy Reading' scheme has been set up by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council, GPs and will be launched at the Mitchell Library on Tuesday, June 27th by Andy Kerr MSP, Minister for Health and Community Care

The first project of its kind in Scotland, ‘Healthy Reading' will give patients swift access to a selection of two hundred self-help books placed in every one of Glasgow's thirty-six libraries and learning centres.Books available through the referral scheme will cover topics as diverse as anger management, addictions, chronic fatigue, depression and getting a good night's sleep.

It follows a successful pilot in the south of the city, which began in February 2005 and resulted in books being borrowed 12,000 times.  The reading list was drawn up following close consultation between psychologists and librarians and has now been extended to include suitable titles for young people between 14 and 18 years old.

Dr. Jim White, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, STEPS, said: "Problems like stress, anxiety and depression are so common in Scotland and inflict so much distress on sufferers and their families.

"There has already been a superb response to Healthy Reading and it is great news that is being extended to all parts of Glasgow.By joining forces with the Council we have been able to provide sensible, easily understood information to help people take back control of their lives. "

Depending on individual need, a self-help book can either be used on its own or alongside other treatments such as medication and counselling. The Healthy Reading scheme is confidential and available to anyone who thinks they may benefit. Like all libraries services in Glasgow, it is also free.

Councillor John Lynch, Convenor of Glasgow City Council's Cultural and leisure services, said:  "This is a great example of how working in partnership with our colleagues in the NHS can help us improve the health and well-being of many Glaswegians.

"Our different skills have complimented each other well and together we have found a potential solution to the problems faced by thousands of people in this city. Self-help books can be very effective for those looking to overcome mild mental health issues and so it has to make sense to have them more readily available."

Most of the books in the scheme employ a Cognative Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach and provide step-by-step help treatment programme which encourage readers to think about the 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.

Andy Kerr MSP, Minister for Health and Community Care, said: "One in four of us will have a mental health problem at some stage of life and schemes like Glasgow's ‘Healthy Reading' programme will help people gain informative psychological advice to recover more quickly.

"I hope other areas will follow Glasgow's lead once they realise the benefits it can bring to people's quality of life.


Mental health problems such as anxiety or depression account for 30% of all GP consultations.

For further media information contact 0141 287 0910.


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Last Updated: 11 November 2021