[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
Self-help book prescription grows
Self-help books
A range of self-help books will be available in every library in Wales
Plans to prescribe self-help books to people with mental health problems throughout Wales have been cautiously welcomed by patients' groups.

A two-year pilot project in Cardiff has treated more patients with books than were seen by psychologists.

Now the Welsh Assembly Government is to extend self-help through libraries and GPs across the whole of the country.

But Graham Cox from Depression Alliance Cymru said patients should have been consulted on the books offered.

Mr Cox has had a history of depression and is a firm believer in the benefits of self-help literature.

Our concern is that someone turns up with depression and is just given a book
Graham Cox, Depression Alliance Cymru
Following a series of domestic problems, the loss of a child, financial worries and a relationship break-up, he walked into a GP surgery in Cardiff.

"I threatened to blow my brains out," he said, "I didn't understand what was happening to me.

"I didn't know what to ask for, or what was available to me.

Graham Cox
Depression Alliance's Graham Cox has a history of mental illness
"I was referred to the crisis response unit, they made me an appointment to see a psychologist - but there was a seven-month waiting list.

"I was eventually taken under a psychiatrist in Pontypridd and in two years I never saw the same one twice."

Stress management

But in those years he started to read books about his condition, and learned a little about his medication, diet, a range of therapies and stress management.

He claimed most of the 250,000 people suffering from depression in Wales could be helped at an early stage with the help of a self-help manual.

"That's why we are cautiously welcoming this scheme, as part of a package of treatment," he said.

"Our concern is that someone turns up with depression and is just given a book."

Anything that encourages GPs away from blanket medicating patients is very welcome
Film maker Melissa Gunasena

But the extended scheme was welcomed by film-maker Melissa Gunasena, whose film Evolving Minds, exploring the relationships between psychosis and spirituality and the alternatives to psychiatry, was shown in Cardiff this week.

"Anything that encourages GPs away from blanket medicating patients is very welcome," she said.

"Even changes in diet can make a huge difference people's mental and emotional well being. Anything that helps people look at their own condition has got to be a positive step."

The man who devised the prescription book scheme, Professor Neil Frude, a consultant psychologist at Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, said: "We launched the scheme in March 2003 in Cardiff, now it's been copied in 45 areas across the UK.

"Ninety per cent of mild to moderate psychological problems are treated in primary care.

"And the benefit of the scheme is that patients can be given similar treatments in a book that they would receive in counselling."

A list of 33 books has been compiled by medical experts in Wales and they will all be available through GPs and libraries across Wales, but the patients' groups have not been consulted on the list.

Mr Cox feared some books may be beyond the reach of many patients who need help.

"A key criticism is that they are not accessible to a group of people whose depression impairs their ability to concentrate and thus read books," he said.

The World Health organisation estimates six per cent of men and almost 10 per cent of women suffer a depressive episode every year.

Books are right tonic for service
13 Apr 05 |  Bradford

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific