Tag Archives: World Mental Health Day

We can help

Did you know that using a public library is good for your mental health?

Books on Prescription at Victoria LibraryRecent research done for Arts Council England found that

“Library usage is associated with higher life satisfaction, higher happiness and a higher sense of purpose in life… These results suggest that libraries generally have an important role in library users’ quality of life and wellbeing.”

– The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries, 2015

Today is World Mental Health Day so we’re taking the opportunity to talk about some of the support that Westminster Libraries can offer to maintain and improve your and your family’s mental health.

If you visit your local library today, you are likely to see a display entitledBooks on Prescription – a selection of self-help books put together by health professionals that give guidance on managing and, in some cases, recovering from mild to moderate mental wellbeing issues. These books are available for a longer-than-usual loan period, and figures released today suggest that it’s a positive and useful resource (Book-based therapy scheme is a success) – so successful in fact that Korean TV visited Victoria Library this week to talk to the Reading Agency and our very own librarian Nick about taking Books on Prescription to Korea!

You can browse the selection for yourself on the library catalogue:

Browse the 'Books on Prescription' selection

Browse the ‘Books on Prescription’ selection

From the same page you can also browse a great selection of Mood Boosting Books – uplifting titles including novels, poetry and non-fiction. The books are recommended by readers and reading groups around the country.

Browse the selection of Mood Boosting Books

Browse the selection of Mood Boosting Books

You are probably aware of the wide range of health-related events that are held regularly in Westminster Libraries – from free blood pressure checks to Q & A sessions about different conditions, from advice on healthy eating to fun dental health sessions for children. But as the report at the top of the post indicates, it’s not just attending health-related events that can have an impact on your mental health. Attending any library events (and we have a LOT!) can improve feelings of wellbeing. In fact, there is also evidence that improved literacy is linked to good health, so the Health Information Project is working closely with children’s Chatterbooks reading groups and other groups within libraries to support reading as a whole.

Have you heard about the Shared Reading Groups? We have a wide range of reading groups that you can join, from the traditional ‘read a book a month and discuss it’ style to groups focusing on comics or crime fiction. Shared reading groups have a slightly different style – there’s no set book, you don’t need to read it before you attend – just come along and listen to others read aloud, discuss (if you want) and enjoy the books (poetry, plays, novels), the company and the free tea and coffee!

We can help. Libraries are a great source of information, enjoyment, social interaction or space just to read and learn. Come in and spend some time, join in with an event or group, find a great book to read for escape or to find support with the stresses of life. These links may also help:



A Fruitful Week!

Mary and the Health Display

Last week was an action packed week for Health Information: six events took place in five sites. It was World Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October, followed by World Arthritis day on 12 October, and Westminster Libraries decided to take the opportunity to encourage Westminster residents to think about their health.

Two weeks ago I started the ball rolling by livening up the Health Information Stands in seven of the ten library sites with fruit and flowers. Waitrose, who are keen to support community projects, donated a lot of the fruit for displays and the events that followed.

The first site to host an event was Queen’s Park Library who held a workshop on Monday 10 October entitled ‘The Calm Breath’. This was the first of the four ‘Peace of Mind Events’ marking World Mental Health Day, encouraging the community to seek relief from the strains and stresses of everyday life. Calming herbal teas were served with refreshing plates of fruit. A  Health Champion from Health Trainers was on hand to promote their absolutely free one-to-one health improvement service, Gemma from the Carers Network in North Westminster brought information for carers and NHS practitioners from the wellbeing teams joined in as Tim, from the British Wheel of Yoga, led a large group of Open Age members and other library users in a gentle breathing practice.

Comments from the feedback forms included ‘It was very good and relaxing’… and to the question ‘Did you learn anything new?‘ came the answer ‘Libraries stocking books‘… I presume the person meant books on health topics, and specifically books on relaxation!

The next day Pimlico Library assigned their Quiet Room to a ‘Mindfulness’ session with Sud who is a doctor just about to take his Masters Degree in Mindful CBT.  It was very well attended with a group from the nearby Gordon Hospital asking Sud to explain his work in depth. This he did and gave a very calming and informative talk followed by a practice involving looking at a raisin in an entirely new way! Most people ate the raisin immediately, but after another go we all found the raisin exercise extremely enlightening. More delicious herbal teas and grapes in individual cups added to the morning and there was a good response from the attendees. Comments included ‘I am studying health and Social Care and I found the topic interesting’ and ‘The Raisin experience’ was new to another participant. All the people who attended on Tuesday were very impressed with Pimlico Library.

On Wednesday there were two information stalls: one at Paddington in the morning and one in the afternoon at Marylebone. Frances from Arthritis Care was available to help people to find out about all the different kinds of arthritis, she was supported by Health Champion Sviatlana from Health Trainers who was there to give advice on diet and exercise. Frances is going to send one of her colleagues from Arthritis Care to do a talk in the very near future.

The next day was the fourth ‘Peace of Mind’ event at Paddington Library. This was more of an information based event, with three tables for health professionals from the NHS Wellbeing Team, Carers Network, Health Trainers and Elizabeth from WELDIS (Westminster’s information website for elderly and disabled people). The teams chatted to customers as they popped into Paddington Library and most expressed surprise and satisfaction that so many services were available through their local library.

The last ‘Peace of Mind’ event of the week was at Church Street Library on 14 October. This was a ladies-only event and was multilingual. Christine took us through a meditation which was translated into Arabic and Bengali; there were Somali speakers present also.  The main core of this group was formed from Mahbuba’s regular English Speaking Group at Church Street.  There were refreshments and chat and great hilarity as well as moments of great calm and peace. Westminster’s NHS partners were well represented and also Monica from the local Neighbourhood Centre. Members of other library groups attended such as the Paddington and Maida Vale Shared Reading Groups.  It was a great way to end a very fruitful week.

We are now planning some health events with the family learning team.  The first taster event is to take place in Paddington Children’s Library on 27 October. Health and Play is the working title!