Mental Health Takes Centre Stage on World Book Day

19 Feb 2020

How can books benefit our mental health? That’s the topic for debate at this year’s annual World Book Day event organised by the Books Council of Wales.

Mental Health Takes Centre Stage on World Book Day

How can books benefit our mental health? That’s the topic for debate at this year’s annual World Book Day event organised by the Books Council of Wales.

At Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Thursday 5 March 2020, a panel of six experts will discuss the benefits of ‘bibliotherapy’ where self-help books are used to support mental health and wellbeing.

A wide range of books is available as part of the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, which provides helpful reading to support health and wellbeing on a variety of topics including mental health and dementia.

The scheme is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with public libraries across Wales and England, with the Books Council of Wales ensuring that a selection of the books is available in the Welsh language as well as in English.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription for mental health scheme provides useful information and support for managing common mental health conditions or dealing with difficult feelings and experiences.

Some of the books also include personal stories from people who live with or care for someone with mental health needs.

Book reviewer and editor Bethan Mair will chair the discussion panel for World Book Day. "Books are my world," said Bethan "but my life has also been blighted by periods of depression and anxiety. It isn’t always easy to talk about these things, even more so when you’re used to wearing a ‘nothing-wrong-here’ mask in public. But knowing you’re not alone, and that other sufferers have come through the experience, can be a huge comfort.

"Self-healing is an important element in all mental health treatments," she added "yet we must have a helping hand to heal – and a book can always be at hand. The Reading Well Books on Prescription come in all shapes and sizes, for all kinds of situations, and this pioneering provision in Welsh can only be a force for good. I’m looking forward very much to chairing a lively, informative and revealing discussion on an issue which touches so many lives."

Other panel members include:

• Manon Elin James – a founding member of the meddwl.org website which provides support and information on mental health disorders through the medium of Welsh.

• Bethan Hughes – Principal Librarian at Denbighshire Libraries who leads on the well-being agenda and the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme across Wales.

• Sharon Marie Jones – a children’s author who has written extensively about her grief and mental health following the death of her five-year-old son in a car accident in 2016.

• Dr Harri Pritchard – an experienced GP and a regular contributor to the media on medical issues.

• Angharad Tomos – an award-winning writer who has written about her severe postnatal depression.

Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, Helgard Krause, said: "World Book Day is an opportunity to celebrate the written word and to reflect on how reading can be good for us on so many levels. At a time of increasing debate around mental health problems, we are proud to be working with The Reading Agency and Welsh Government to promote the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme in Wales. All of the self-help books in this scheme have been endorsed by health experts and it is vitally important to ensure that this high-quality material is also available in Welsh."

Debbie Hicks MBE, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, said: "One in four of us will face a mental health issue at some point in our lives. This World Book Day, we are delighted to be showcasing the proven power of reading to help people understand and manage their mental health and wellbeing. We are proud to work with the Books Council of Wales and public libraries to deliver Reading Well Books on Prescription in Wales, enabling the scheme to reach even more people in Welsh and English."

The World Book Day event will open with a reception at 6pm at Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Thursday 5 March 2020, followed by the discussion at 6.30pm.

Admission is free and all are welcome. To reserve a place, please email menai.williams@books.wales.

All titles in the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme are available to borrow from public libraries throughout Wales. They can also be recommended by health and social care professionals to support treatment.

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