Have you ever thought of using books to improve your mental health? If you are a keen reader then you may already appreciate the potential of a book to challenge your views, outlook and mood.
Book therapy through the use of self-help books is often known as bibliotherapy. Self-help books could be an option as an informal support option for students.
The Royal College of Physiologists has endorsed the Overcoming… series of self-help books with a range of titles including Overcoming Depression, Overcoming Anxiety, Overcoming Panic. Some of the books recommended are even available on the NHS on prescription in some areas. If you visit the main website you will also find links to courses which you can buy in a downloadable format online- but you might be able to find similar options without the attached cost.
For a list of books commonly available through prescription services you can visit www.readingwell.org.uk where you will find a list of topics to choose from. The Reading Well scheme is endorsed by health professionals and supported by public libraries in England and Wales- there are similar schemes throughout Scotland and they are managed by the individual local health board. Ask your GP about books available on prescription in your local area.
Another approach is to explore classic literature in order to better understand your mental health. What can you learn from the characterisation of iconic literary figures or famous narratives? We have found this FutureLearn course from the University of Warwick, Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing which looks at how poems, plays and books can help people cope and manage their emotional and mental wellbeing. Do you think that you would find it helpful to hear from those who have experienced mental illness, including Stephen Fry, Ian McKellen and Melvyn Bragg, while examining literature touching on stress, trauma, bipolar, depression and more? This MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) might be something you would like to have a look at. It is a great combination of reading, learning and working towards a goal which can all have a positive impact on your mental health. The courses run regularly so don’t worry if you don’t have time for it right now!
Could your university or college start to carry self-help books in your library? This could be a really great way to get people thinking about accessing support for their mental health and letting them progress in at their own pace towards recovery.
Have you used self help books or literature and found them helpful for your mental health? If they worked for you then they might work for someone else- get in touch and let us know which books you used and what you thought of them- email firstname.lastname@example.org.