Public libraries nationwide had something to celebrate on World Mental Health Day #WMHD, 10 October. Many ran special events.
To highlight the successful launch of their Reading Well mental health promotion.
This scheme features special collections in every library – tried and tested self-help titles on anxiety, depression and other common mental health problems.
Loans of these books went up 51% in just one month.
Some titles were issued 250% more!
Simple, really. A unified public service like libraries can work together, get on board with the GPs’ and psychiatrists’ national bodies – and make help easy to find for everyone.
Everyone who still has a local library, that is.
Who got it together? A charity, The Reading Agency (TRA), and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL).
Did the government do anything?
Is the government doing anything to halt the mass closure of local libraries?
Just since April this year, 352 libraries (309 buildings and 43 mobiles) have been closed or dumped on to volunteers, or are threatened with this fate. That’s on top of an estimated 78 (plus 14 mobiles) lost in 2012-13, and a documented 201 in 2011-12.
(We can’t give more exact figures because the government doesn’t publish them.)
Janene Cox, SCL President, says: ‘Libraries have always served the entire community and with our health offer, we have further cemented the role of libraries in helping society’s most vulnerable people.’
Debbie Hicks, of TRA, says: ‘Libraries are one of the only free places where older people can gather access a spectrum of health and well being services, from learning how to go online for health information, picking up a self help book or joining a reading group.’
The Library Campaign says: ‘Given half a chance, public libraries do fantastic work – at minimum cost. This is just one example. But this will soon be wiped out in many areas. A national network, giving convenient local access to all, will soon simply no longer exist.”
Does the government get it?
Does it care?