Good book could help open a new chapter to better mental health
THE power of the written word over people is already immortalised by the saying "the pen is mightier than the sword".
But now, according to a reading charity and the Government, even your health could be improved by a good book.
From May, a new scheme will promote a list of fiction books for people with mental health problems including anxiety and depression.
As part of the plan by the Reading Agency and backed by the Department of Health, works such as Cider With Rosie, Notes From A Small Island and The Secret Garden will be recommended by GPs as part of support for patients, alongside traditional self-help books.
Book a table at Tonights STEAK NIGHT and get a FREE DRINK*View details
Come and join us tonight for Steak night and get a free pint or glass of house wine
*selected drinks ONLY
Redeem voucher for free drink or quote thisisnottingham when ordering
Contact: 0115 896 2165
Valid until: Tuesday, May 21 2013
The verdict from Notts bookworms was unanimous.
"It's an absolutely wonderful idea," said Lowdham Library Reading Group leader Eve Griffiths, 59.
"If you are talking about a feelgood factor, there's no doubt books can make people's lives better."
The list of 27 books was put together by the Reading Agency and the idea will be tied in with the Books on Prescription project, which includes non-fiction self-help books for conditions.
Eve, who lives in Papplewick and gets through 40 books a year, added: "I really believe it will make a difference if people give it a chance. Some people, especially those not used to reading, might think it's a bit daft at first."
Jane Streeter runs the Bookcase, an independent book shop in Main Street, Lowdham, where Eve also works part-time.
She said: "Reading should be a focus for mental health experts and this is really encouraging.
"Children need to grow up knowing they can escape into another world through a book if they need to.
"When people are going through difficult times in life, it can be really helpful to read fiction that can sometimes mirror what's happening to you – it can support the experiences that you are having."
Jane said reading books about Buddhism had influenced her life and recommended the "English country idyll" feeling portrayed in Cider With Rosie, the 1959 book by Laurie Lee.
Pam McIlroy runs Broadway Book Club, which meets once a month at the Broadway Cinema, in Hockley.
She said: "There's no doubt a good book will lift your mood, but it would depend on the level of depression a person has got.
"If it's mild, you can still get lost in a book and get a boost from it. But if your depression is very severe, it could be hard to even concentrate on a page."
Ian Rigley is from the Let's Talk Wellbeing Service, which provides psychological therapy for people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression.
He said fiction, alongside non-fiction therapy books, was already recommended by the service to patients.
"Fiction books can be used as a means of helping people distract from their own thoughts, which can be quite distressing for some people with anxiety," he said.
"Reading generally can be a purposeful and meaningful occupation for people with depression. I'd definitely advocate reading fictional books as a way of coping."
He added: "It can help but wouldn't necessarily in itself be a cure for psychological syndromes and disorder."