Reading Well Books on Prescription

Many people develop emotional or mental health problems during their life. They may struggle to cope with difficult times or events, and feel vulnerable, anxious or worried. Reading Well Books on Prescription helps you manage your well-being using self-help reading.

The books provide helpful information and step-by-step techniques for managing common conditions including depression and anxiety.


The books available through the scheme cover a wide range of mental health issues:

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • binge eating /  Bulimia Nervosa
  • chronic fatigue
  • chronic pain
  • dementia
  • depression
  • health Anxiety
  • obsessions and compulsions
  • panic
  • phobias
  • relationship problems
  • self-esteem
  • sleep problems
  • social phobia
  • stress
  • worry.

Lists of books

How the scheme works

Books can be recommended or 'prescribed' by your GP, psychological well-being practitioner or another health professional. They will complete a prescription form attached to the Reading Well Books On Prescription user guide. Individuals can then take their book prescription to the library where the book can be borrowed for free.

Some people may also use the self-help books independently as a first step in seeking help.

Download the Reading Well Books on Prescription user guide [PDF].

Library membership

You will need to be a library member to borrow a book. Joining is easy and free. You can either join online or do it at the library when you take in your 'prescription'.

You will be required to provide contact details and your prescription will provide a form of identification. Library book loans and borrower details are treated as strictly confidential.

Loan periods

Books can be borrowed for three weeks and renewed a further four times by
  • telephone: 0300 500 80 80
  • post
  • fax
  • online.

Making the most of the book

Self-help author Lee Brosnan has prepared some advice for making the most of any books you borrow [PDF].


Research from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence shows that self-help books can help people understand and manage common conditions including depression and anxiety.

Although books can sometimes work on their own, research has shown that self-help approaches work best when there is support from a health professional. If you have been referred to an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, you might be seen by psychological well-being practitioner, who can guide you through the information.

The books have all been recommended by experts. They have been tried and tested and found to be useful.

About the scheme

A national Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme for England delivered by The Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians with funding from Arts Council England.

The scheme is supported by:

  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • British Psychological Society
  • Department of Health’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme (IAPT)
  • British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapies
  • Mind.

Additional support

If you find that the book you are reading is not helping, you should contact your GP or health professional for further advice.

You can also visit:

Information for health professionals

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