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Read for depression and mental health

Books on Prescription

Earlier in the year Tegan Usher, a Masters of Philosophy candidate at Melbourne University, conducted a survey for her research : A novel prescription: Which books should General Practitioner’s prescribe to patients experiencing depression? She presented her preliminary findings to the Primary Health Care Research Conference – available here, with the webcast here .

Tegan noted that ‘Depression is a common disorder, affecting one in four Australians. Many people with depressive symptoms do not seek help. Barriers to seeking help include stigma, misconceptions about medication and limited access to treatment. There is emerging interest in using books to treat depression. The benefits
of using books to treat depression include being cost-effective, less stigmatising and they are perceived as helpful. Currently in the United Kingdom, General Practitioners can prescribe books based on cognitive behavioural therapy or refer patients to reading groups. This study will identify the most commonly used books and their perceived helpfulness from the perspective of the person experiencing depression.
The most common type of book participants reported using was fiction (69.81%) followed by self-help books (57.64%); books on stress or meditation (53.12%); Autobiographies (47.66%); other (33.43%); poetry (32.39) and books about diet or exercise (25.42%).
Implications – These findings will be used to develop a resource to assist GPs with recommending books to their patients.’
Tegan is on Twitter at @Read4Depression
The Reading Agency does great work in the area of reading prescriptions – Books on Prescription  Reading Well . Check out the site for substantive research.
This program has been implemented in Australia by Central West Libraries in partnership with Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health. Read more here, and discover more in Mudgee at the NSW Public Libraries Conference (in the Libraries and Wellbeing stream).
We delivered a basic Mood Boosting Books program for Mental Health Month of October. MBB is self-help bibliotherapy while Books on Prescription is prescriptive bibliotherapy.
  • We used the list from The Reading Agency as a start, then added others we recommend as ‘mood boosting’.
  • We created a physical display that we have added to all month as books have been flying off the stands.
  • We created highly visual flyers about the program featuring the bookcovers and we added that pdf online.
  • We added all the titles on our Goodreads under the Mood Boosting Books shelf and linked each book to our catalogue for easy discovery.
  • We added a ‘Mood Boosting Books’ note to our catalogue so people could search that way.
  • We added mental health support links to our Diigo so they’re easily found for staff or people in our community searching.
  • Next year we will look at community presentations also like we have done with cancer wellness.
Research from TRA site noted that ‘reading improves mental wellbeing and reduces stress levels by 67%’ and ‘reading also reduces the risk of dementia by 35%.’ Readers advisory practice is about a lot more than satisfying leisure reading needs.
How are you using reading to look after the health of your community?

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