Lifesaving library services improving mental health

People living with mental health conditions are benefiting from lifesaving library services which have been launched by councils.

With one in four people likely to experience a mental health condition each year, he Local Government Association is urging residents to visit their local library service where they can find out more about the variety of resources and books on offer to support mental health and well-being.

Councils have implemented services such as ‘Reading Well’ on prescription schemes, drawing and painting sessions for people with anxiety and addictions and reminiscence activities for those with dementia. Since the ‘Reading Well’ scheme was introduced in 2013 at Norfolk County Council, it has reached 778,000 users.

Other innovative council programmes include a home book delivery service, run by Hounslow Council, to help those who are house bound to access their library as well as prevent social isolation of residents which is a main cause of mental health issues. An activity called ‘Creative Alternatives’, which is hosted in St Helen’s Libraries as part of the award-winning Cultural Hubs programme, helps people aged over 18 who are living with anxiety, stress and depression in creative writing, drawing, sculpture and woodwork.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board said: “Tackling and preventing mental health in our communities is a huge priority.  A library of the 21st century is home to a diverse range of services in our communities. It can support health and wellbeing, prevent social isolation and loneliness and provide support to people living with dementia.

“Councils know the benefits which libraries can provide in helping residents to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Despite the substantial funding gaps facing many of our services, councils and library staff have shown evidence of a fantastic amount of commitment and innovation with making the very best of their resources.”

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