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Suffolk Libraries launches new scheme to support young people’s mental health

Students from Thomas Gainsborough School helping to launch the scheme at Great Cornard Library

Students from Thomas Gainsborough School helping to launch the scheme at Great Cornard Library.

Suffolk Libraries is getting behind a national scheme to support young people with mental health issues.

‘Reading Well for young people’ is a new scheme which provides expert information and a recommended reading list to help tackle some of the mental health and wellbeing issues that young people face.

The scheme is being launched today (12 April) and is part of the hugely successful Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme which is already available through the library service. Reading Well for young people is aimed at 13-18 year-olds and provides high-quality information, support and advice on a wide-range of issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm, and difficult life pressures, like bullying and exams. The number of 15-16 year olds experiencing anxiety or depression has doubled in the last 30 years and 1 in 10 young people have a diagnosable mental health issue.

The new scheme has been developed with the help of a panel of young people who have had experience of mental health issues. The books can be recommended by GPs, school nurses, counsellors and other health professionals as well as being free to borrow from the library.

The scheme is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians and the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians. It is funded by Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust and is supported by a range of health organisations including NHS England (IAPT), Public Health England, Mental Health Foundation, Mind and YoungMinds.

Suffolk Libraries already supports the Books on Prescription programme and is unique in having a dedicated Mental Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator who works to ensure library visitors can get access to the health and wellbeing information.

Alison Wheeler, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries and a member of the Society of Chief Librarians, said:

I am very pleased that Suffolk Libraries will be supporting this very positive new programme. We know that young people may face many challenges and issues and may not always know where to turn for help. Libraries can play a key role in providing access to reading materials and information which can make a real difference to them.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Libraries can play a significant role in the health of local communities by providing free access to advice and information for people of all ages. This important new scheme uses libraries, books and reading to reach out to young people to help them manage their mental health and wellbeing, and cope with the pressures of modern life.

Reading Well for young people’s recommended reading list of 35 books were selected by mental health experts and young people. The list includes a wide range of self-help and information titles, as well as fiction, including hugely influential novels such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

There is more information on the new scheme at


More information:

Public libraries have offered support to adults with common mental health needs since 2013 through Reading Well Books on Prescription. The Reading Well for young people list of 35 recommended books will soon be available from all library services along with supporting leaflets.

Rates of mental health problems increase as young people reach adolescence. Poor mental health for young people has serious implications for later life, affecting wellbeing and the ability to work and earn as adults. The core booklist for Reading Well for young people is as follows:

  • Stuff That Sucks: Accepting What You Can’t Change and Committing to What You Can by Ben Sedley (Robinson, Little Brown)
  • Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson (Hot Key Books)
  • The Self-Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!! by The Self-Esteem Team (John Blake Publishing)
  • Blame My Brain: The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed by Nicola Morgan (Walker Books)
  • Quiet the Mind by Matthew Johnstone (Robinson, Little, Brown)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Walker Books)
  • Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • House of Windows by Alexia Casale (Faber)
  • Every Day by David Levithan (Electric Monkey, Egmont)
  • Putting on the Brakes: Understanding and Taking Control of Your ADD or ADHD by Patricia Quinn and Judith Stern (Magination Press, American Psychological Association)
  • My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael Tompkins and Katherine Martinez (Magination Press, American Psychological Association)
  • The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens: CBT Skills to Overcome Fear, Worry and Panic by Jennifer Shannon (New Harbinger Publications, Little, Brown)
  • The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens by Jennifer Shannon (New Harbinger Publications, Little Brown)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (Sceptre, Hodder)
  • Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User’s Guide to Adolescence by Luke Jackson (Jessica Kingsley)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Vintage)
  • Teen Life Confidential: Bullies, Cyberbullies and Frenemies by Michele Elliott (Wayland, Hachette Children’s)
  • Vicious: True Stories by Teens about Bullying ed. Hope Vanderberg (Free Spirit Publishing)
  • Banish Your Self-Esteem Thief: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Building Positive Self-Esteem for Young People by Kate Collins-Donnelly (Jessica Kingsley)
  • Teen Life Confidential: Self-Esteem and Being You by Anita Naik (Wayland, Hachette Children’s)
  • Face by Benjamin Zephaniah (Bloomsbury)
  • Am I Depressed and What Can I Do About it? by Shirley Reynolds and Monika Parkinson (Robinson, Little, Brown)
  • I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone (Robinson, Little, Brown)
  • Can I Tell You About Depression? by Christopher Dowrick and Susan Martin (Jessica Kingsley)
  • Can I Tell You About Eating Disorders? by Bryan Lask and Lucy Watson (Jessica Kingsley)
  • Banish Your Body Image Thief by Kate Collins-Donnelly (Jessica Kingsley)
  • Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield (Walker Books)
  • Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens by Sheri van Dijk (New Harbinger Publications, Little, Brown)
  • Touch and Go Joe by Joe Wells (Jessica Kingsley)
  • Breaking Free from OCD: A CBT Guide for Young People and their Families by Jo Derisley, Isobel Heyman, Sarah Robinson, Cynthia Turner (Jessica Kingsley)
  • The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Walker Books)
  • The Truth About Self-Harm by Celia Richardson (Mental Health Foundation)
  • Fighting Invisible Tigers: A Stress Management Guide for Teens by Earl Hipp (Free Spirit Publishing)
  • Teenage Guide to Stress by Nicola Morgan (Walker Books)