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Books to boost your mood. Wednesday July 24, 2013

Can reading books help you cope better with depression and anxiety? The Department of in the UK clearly thinks so and is backing a nationwide Books on Prescription scheme. Now, people in England with mild to moderate mental health concerns can be prescribed self-help books that they can borrow from their local library.

Among the 30 prescription titles to be stocked by libraries across England are books like The Feeling Good Handbook, How to Stop Worrying and Overcoming Anger and Irritability. The scheme has been developed by the Reading Agency charity and is based on a similar scheme in Wales pioneered by clinical psychologist Professor Neil Frude. In Wales today, three of the country’s 10 most borrowed books are self-help. Denmark and New Zealand run similar initiatives.

The thinking is straightforward. There is plenty of evidence that reading self-help books can be very beneficial, the latest being a study published in the online science journal Plos One which showed that people who used them over a year had measurably lower levels of depression.

The problem is that while some titles contain nuggets of gold, others aren't so good, and could be potentially harmful. A search for 'self help' on Amazon throws up 250,000 results. Professor Frude likes an American system of rating self-help books, from five-stars down to a dagger for books that actually make you feel worse.

The prescription scheme is being run in parallel with the Reading Agency's promotion called Mood Boosting Books. The idea is that as well as self-help titles, people should also read books that can put them in a better mood directly because they are funny or describe breath-taking experiences. Two recommended books are Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island.

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Anonymous Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 8:07am

Hurray! As a strong believer in self- help books over the past 20 years, this is music to my ears, Andrew. I think our instincts, WHEN we follow them!, tell us that nuggets of gold as you aptly call them, gleaned from a good book, are worth holding on to, and many is the time I've jotted down inspirational words that prove helpful to me, simply because I feel " understood". It is the feeling of being alone with your mood/ anxiety which is sooo isolating and ultimately drags you further down. Thank you thank you thank you. And I love both the books you mention at the end of your newsletter too.

Julia Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 9:46am

It's a great idea to encourage reading. I hope the recommended self help books are short though. But experts will have thought about all this and it's only my personal dislike of long self help books which take 100s of pages to illustrate one point, that makes me say this

Anonymous Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 10:19am

I'd love to see a list of books people find improve their mood. I know there are some favourites I turn to to restore a sense of hope in humanity at times and give me courage...
What a simple and potentially positive idea.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 10:36am

It's great to see an alternative approach to helping people. I love reading and read both self help books where i've found some useful nuggets and will be inspired by the mood enhancing book list on The Reading Agency website. Link below...

From this list I've read a couple but greatly recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a simple easy read but it really made me think about life in a good way.

You can get the precription book list online an obtain the books seperatly independantly if you prefer to do that.

Thanks for introducing us to this.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 3:11pm

Absolutely. Reading is a great comfort (although it is also the cave into which I withdraw when in a "down") I make a practice of reading only happy and uplifting books (and get flack from people who call me a coward) as part of my mood management system. I would add to those wonderful books Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and anything by the wise and funny Terry Pratchett.If anyone can recommend some other happy but more intellectually defensible books I'd be really grateful.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 3:54pm

I was an NHS counsellor in Medway ( I retired 3 years ago). We had this books scheme from 2007. The problem was partly that the libraries couldn't cope with the demand and having to wait a long time for books plus paying for them to be reserved put off a lot of people. There are some people who can benefit from reading good self help books but others who cannot or don't even want to try. I have reservations about the value of this scheme.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 4:08pm

By far the best self-help book I've ever read isn't on that "perscription list". It's called "59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot" by Professor Richard Wiseman. He is a Professor for the public understanding of popular psychology - the book basically trawls through all of the self-help tropes that keep turning and looks to scientific analysis and experimentation to determine if they work, or are baloney.

The book lets you know if the power of positive thinking works, helps you to focus on the good stuff in your life, how to incentivise yourself to lose weight and also improve your chances of your lost wallet being returned to you.

Ben Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 4:33pm

I never comment. But I agree that self help works. One book that I love is Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. It uses more scientific evidence than typical self help books and also has really practical advice. Highly recommended.

Julia Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 5:19pm

"The Power of Accepting Yourself" written by Michael Cohen is a good short book.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 6:09pm

Thanks for this entry I also find reading very helpful.
What about personal changing like "the seven habits of highly effective people"?

PWD Wed, Jul 24th 2013 @ 9:53pm

Moodscope should also be available on prescription

Caroline Ashcroft Thu, Jul 25th 2013 @ 10:45pm

Here, here!

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