UK Announces Inventive New Mental Health Initiative for Libraries

Many different venues may come to mind when conceptualizing mental health and the providing of related services. From hospitals and clinics to private practice offices and institutional settings, as well as more modern arenas such as the outdoors or at a horse ranch, there is a great variety of places where people can receive different types of mental health treatment. While the library can certainly be a therapeutic place for some who appreciate quiet and the world of books, it is not often grouped with other environments geared towards therapy. Yet a group of libraries has teamed with the UK’s National Health Service to begin offering visitors a program devoted to providing care in the form of the written word.

The project, entitled “Get Your Life Back,” is slated for starting this coming Thursday in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Day, and will involve several library branches, each offering a collection of renowned texts on depression and anxiety. The project’s organizers note that rather than attempting to replace the role of doctors or therapists, the books are intended to help make understanding personal mental health issues easier and more accessible; the program may also help such issues to become less stigmatized among society at large.

In a global environment in which access to care is a pressing concern, developing measures to assist in mental health support in sustainable, cost-effective, and open, inviting ways is of increasing importance. As the library initiative prepares to take flight, there are doubtless many officials and advocates waiting to see if such programs are ultimately viable. But whether the program is hugely successful or not, it is bound to reach at least a few book lovers and curious minds interested in understanding themselves and others, and improving their inner lives one page at a time.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Regan


    November 30th, 2009 at 11:04 AM

    This is a welcome development as it is bound to help scores of people who have wanted to ask for professional help, but have abstained from doing so due to the stigmas attached to mental health. Although books cannot replace actual therapists, it is indeed good if people can access information at their will and find out more about the condition and probably be encouraged to finally seek professional help.



    December 1st, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    Nice pilot project and if it is successful, it should be emulated by other countries as well, especially because the youngsters today hardly read books and this is a nice new way of bring them back to the best known source of knowledge of the last century :)

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