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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Patients get novel prescription
Self-help books
Patients have access to self-help books from the library
Self-help books are to be available on prescription to be loaned out to people living in County Durham.

Patients suffering from mild mental health problems will be given a written prescription to be taken to the local library and exchanged for a book.

Support books cover such topics as mild depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorders.

The scheme begins in Chester-le-Street on Thursday, and it is hoped it can be extended across the country eventually.

'Acknowledged experts'

Helen Thompson, Durham County Council's group manager for Chester-le-Street libraries, said: "Many people suffer from very mild mental health problems at some point, but because the problems are so mild they do not want to resort to taking pills or counselling.

"A self-help book is like having someone to talk to without having to take that extra step. It's like thinking out loud.

"Many self help books are written by acknowledged experts, but those 'good' books can sometimes be difficult to find hidden among less well-written and helpful ones.

"The scheme uses only those books that have been thoroughly tested by mental health practitioners, and which have been proved to work when correctly used."

Health trusts in Derwentside, Sedgefield and Easington are also exploring the possibility of joining the scheme.


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