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Reading well

Surrey County Council libraries offer three schemes under the national umbrella of Reading Well.

  • The original scheme, Books on Prescription, provides titles for those experiencing common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
  • The second, Books on Prescription: Dementia, provides information and advice about dementia and normal aging. It contains support with living well after diagnosis, practical advice for carers, personal accounts, and suggestions for shared therapeutic activities. The books are available online and in a selection of our libraries. 
  • A third scheme, Shelf Help, is aimed at young people and those
    looking to support their mental health. As with the first Books on Prescription scheme, Shelf Help looks at common mental health problems. As well as providing the best advice, Shelf Help includes fiction, memoirs and graphic novels as an aid to exploring these topics.   

Self Help books can be very effective when read on their own, or when used with prescribed medication, counselling or therapy. These have been recommended by GPs and other health professionals and are designed to give practical information and advice.

All titles encourage self-awareness and understanding of these health issues and by helping you to develop strategies for coping, will improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Books on the following subjects are stocked in all our large and medium sized libraries and are available to request via our catalogue in all others. Click on the links below to view the availability and location of the titles by category. Leaflets are available to download at the bottom of the page.


Books on Prescription: Common mental health conditions

Books on Prescription: Dementia

Shelf Help – Reading Well for young people

Want to know more?

Reading Well is a national scheme delivered in conjunction with the Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians, with funding from the Arts Council. There is strong evidence that self-help reading works for people with common mental health conditions. The new dementia element builds on this evidence and the existing support mechanisms in place in libraries, such as our Reminiscence Collection, to address a mounting need in the community for cost effective support.


Read Yourself Well

Read Yourself Well comprises two collections, selected by Surrey Libraries. Both collections compliment the national Read Well Schemes and have many titles in common. Read Yourself Well looks at physical as well as mental health, encouraging self-awareness and understanding of health issues. The collections are divided into Self Help and Memoirs & Fiction, both are available to download at the bottom of this page or you can browse via the links below: 

Self Help

Memoirs and fiction


Information and resources for healthcare professionals

If you would like to introduce Books on Prescription to your treatment protocols, the Prescriber Handbook provides a detailed introduction on how to use the scheme. To decide which title(s) to prescribe, you may wish to consult the relevant overview guide to titles: for common mental health problems, or for dementia. These are all available to download at the foot of the page.

Finally, you are welcome to use printed copies of the relevant prescription forms, which we can send on request, or simply use the digital versions also available below.

  • Updated: 13 Jan 2017
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