15th December 2005




An innovative scheme which allows doctors and primary care mental health workers to prescribe self-help books is being trialled in Lincolnshire.


“The scheme helps to provide greater choice for people presenting with anxiety, depression and other stress related problems at their General Practitioners,” said David Rushforth Principal Lecturer and National Project Manager at the Centre for Clinical and Academic Workforce Innovation (CCAWI), part of the University of Lincoln.


“Books from an approved list can be prescribed by doctors, primary care mental health workers in much the same way as a general practitioner might prescribe anti-depressant therapy.”


The Book Prescription Scheme is being trialled by the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Trust, Lincolnshire Library Services and CCAWI which has provided some of the funding.


People with mild to moderate psychological problems are issued with a ‘Book Prescription’ by their GP or mental health worker giving a suggested loan period which can then be exchanged at participating libraries.  


The books are written by highly experienced psychologists and counsellors and many present self-help versions of established programmes to treat problems including depression, panic, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.


The use of books as a means of providing psychological therapy is known as ‘bibliotherapy’. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence endorsed its use in their December 2004 guidelines for the treatment of depression and anxiety. 


“The scheme in Lincolnshire was one of the first to be launched in England,” he said. “It is not designed to replace anti-depressants which have an important role in helping people with emotional problems but rather to extend the choice of treatment available.


“It provides a first step approach to treatment which is cost effective. It allows people to take responsibility for their own future and offers a more personalised solution.”


For more information contact:

Kate Strawson, Assistant Press Officer (01522) 886244