Mark Whitehead 11 October 2018

Libraries support people with mental health issues, say council chiefs

Local government leaders have described how novel library services are helping people cope with a range of mental health problems.

They include drawing and painting sessions for people with anxiety and addictions and reminiscence activities for those with dementia.

It comes as councils across the country support Libraries Week to raise awareness of the pioneering work developed by local libraries to focus on wellbeing, mental health and social isolation in communities.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health condition every year, and one in six report a condition such as anxiety and depression each week.

Recent activities launched by councils include:

  • Norfolk County Council running a 'reading well' collection of books for mental health, selected by NHS health professionals who can recommend a list of titles to patients
  • Hounslow Council has launched a home book delivery service for people who are house bound
  • A 'creative alternatives' service offered by libraries in St Helen’s Libraries includes creative writing, drawing, sculpture and woodwork
  • Sefton Council’s library services has developed a service for people with dementia who can record wartime experiences and accounts of childhood times

Gerald Vernon-Jackson of the LGA said: 'A library of the 21st century is home to a diverse range of services in our communities. It can support health and wellbeing, prevent social isolation and loneliness and provide support to people living with dementia.

'Councils know the benefits which libraries can provide in helping residents to maintain a healthy lifestyle.'

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