Council promotes national reading campaign to support children's health and wellbeing

3 February 2020

Libraries in Cheshire West and Chester now have hundreds of new books recommended by experts to support children's mental health and well-being.

Developed by national charity The Reading Agency in partnership with Libraries Connected and the UK public library network, Reading Well is a national 'Books on Prescription' programme that provides helpful reading to support health and wellbeing. The scheme is developed and endorsed by leading health partners and delivered through public libraries.

Cheshire West and Chester Libraries Service is now launching Reading Well for Children, a new booklist of expert endorsed reading to support children's mental health and wellbeing.

The list is targeted at children in Key Stage 2 but includes titles aimed at a wide range of reading levels to support less confident readers, and to encourage children to read together with their siblings and carers.

The booklist of 33 titles provides quality assured information, advice and stories to support children's mental health and wellbeing. The books are all selected and endorsed by health experts, children and families. The book collections will be held in ten libraries (Storyhouse, Ellesmere Port, Northwich, Winsford, Neston, Upton, Frodsham, Great Boughton, Barnton and Lache) but books can be reserved for free, for delivery to any library in the borough.

Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Louise Gittins, said: "The Reading Well for Children books will be a valuable new resource. It's free to join our libraries and access these books to support children's wellbeing and mental health. This collection complements our other 'Books on Prescription' collections for adults. Libraries are at the centre of our communities and a great place to connect with others and get support."

Since its launch, nationally the scheme has supported 1.2 million people to borrow 2.3 million books. It has been endorsed by the public as well as by GPs, mental health professionals and government ministers as a helpful community-based health service. It has also delivered significant benefit; in a recent survey, 90 per cent of young people would recommend their Reading Well book to a friend for support.

The books contribute to the increasing need for health information, advice and stories to support children in understanding and managing their mental health and wellbeing:
  • One in eight (12.8 per cent) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental health condition when assessed in 2017.
  • Over a third of parents of children aged 4-11 (34 per cent) worry about their child’s mental health at least once a week, and these worries appear well placed as almost two thirds (60 per cent) of children aged 8-11 say they feel stressed, sad or worried at least once a month.
  • There has been an increase over time in the prevalence of mental health needs in 5 to 15 year olds. Rising from 9.7 per cent in 1999 and 10.1 per cent in 2004, to 11.2 per cent in 2017.
  • Schools are on average making 183 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referrals every school day. Most referrals (56 per cent) came from primary schools.
Reading Well for Children is the latest collection from the successful 'Books on Prescription' series. Previous collections available from libraries are "Reading Well for Mental Health" and "Reading Well for Long Term Conditions" for adults and "Shelf Help" for 13 to 18 year olds.

Reading Well for Children is supported by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, The British Psychological Society, Carers UK, Carers Trust, Mental Health First Aid England, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, National Association of Primary Care, NHS England (Children and Young People's Mental Health), Public Health England, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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