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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December, 2004, 14:33 GMT
Book a place at self-help clinic
A book prescription
There are 35 books to choose from
A new scheme is being launched in Devon to encourage people to turn to books instead of pills to tackle the symptoms of depression.

Earlier this week GPs were issued with new guidance on the prescribing of anti-depressants.

Now patients with mild to moderate depression could be referred to a self-help clinic and then issued with a book prescription from a list of 35.

They will then be sent to a local library to collect the prescribed book.

Having an actual prescription can motivate the person into going to get the book from the library
Paul Farrand, University of Plymouth
The self-help clinics are being set up in GP surgeries and run by mental health graduates from the University of Plymouth.

The scheme, which is being formally launched in January, is being run across Devon.

Paul Farrand, who lectures in health psychology at the University, set up the scheme.

He said: "What we are trying to do is provide an alternative to long waiting lists or drugs for patients with mild to moderate depression.

"People will be referred to the clinics by their GP if they think they are likely to benefit.

"Having an actual prescription can motivate the person into going to get the book from the library."

The book list, which has been developed in consultation with user groups and mental health professionals, contains titles ranging from Head Injury:A Practical Guide, to the Feeling Good handbook.

'Cautious welcome'

Dr Farrand said patients would be followed up over a year to measure the effects of the scheme.

Richard Wakerell, director of Plymouth Mind, said: "We would give this a cautious welcome.

"There is a proper place for medication in treatment, but equally, if we can get away from over-reliance on medication then that is to be welcomed.

"Developing positive living skills can be the best antidote to stress and anxiety."

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