A scheme set up in 2007 to help local people with mild to moderate mental health problems has proven a success in its first year. GPs in Pontefract and the surrounding area have been prescribing self-help books to people with problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, relationship difficulties and bereavement. The scheme has been highly praised by patients, many of whom feel that their wellbeing has been improved.
The ‘Books on Prescription’ scheme was launched by South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust’s PLATT service (primary care liaison assessment and treatment team) who are based at Bridge House, Pontefract. The PLATT team offer support to people displaying early signs of mental health problems.
The scheme has enabled more local people to access psychological therapy. The treatment is often called ‘bibliotherapy’ and studies have shown that the use of high quality books such as those available on this scheme can produce similar results to drugs or psychotherapy.
Using a computerised system GPs select and prescribe self-help books that are appropriate to the individual patient. Local libraries ‘dispense’ the book prescription and library staff have been trained to operate professionally and discreetly and to be sensitive towards patients.
Book-based therapy has many advantages over medication including; more immediate effects, lower relapse, no side effects, no danger of overdose and greater personal achievement. The books can be used as a stand alone treatment, along side medication or while the patient is waiting to see a counsellor or trained mental health specialist. People consulting their GP about mild to moderate mental health problems are advised to enquire about the scheme and how they can benefit from it.
Counsellor Georgie Ramseyer from the PLATT service said, "The Books on Prescription scheme has proved to be an extremely effective way of encouraging people with mild mental health problems to educate and help themselves. We would urge anyone who is worried they may be experiencing a mental health problem to visit their GP and ask about the scheme and its benefits. We hope that the scheme will continue to be a success and go on to help many more people."