Doctors in England are trying a new strategy when treating patients with mild to moderate mental health issues. Now people with mental health concerns such as anger, anxiety, binge eating, depression, anxiety, obsessions and compulsions, panic, phobias, self-esteem, stress and worry are to be prescribed an alternative form of medication: self-help books which they can borrow from their local library.
According to the Guardian, books such as “The Feeling Good Handbook”, “How to Stop Worrying” and “Overcoming Anger and Irritability” will be among the 30 prescription titles selected that libraries across England will stock in an attempt to improve the mental wellbeing of the nation.
The program, announced by the charity Reading Agency, will model a similar program launched a few years ago in Wales. In Wales now, 30,000 self-help books are borrowed every year and three of the 10 most checked-out library books in the country are of the self-help genre.
While the legitimacy of the self-help book itself definitely matters, many studies that have assessed the power of self-help books on mild mental health issues and found that people who used them consistently showed measurably lower levels of depression.
This program is designed to be accessible and affordable to all British people who suffer from an increasing number of mental health issues. According to the Reading Agency, 6 million people in the UK deal with anxiety and depression, and around two thirds of those people are not receiving any treatment.
So what do you think? Is this program an innovative solution in a society that over-medicates, or a risky program for those suffering from mental health issues and need a fix? Is this a great opportunity for libraries and society, or discriminatory towards the illiterate?