A special reading programme to help people improve their mental health and wellbeing is to be rolled out across Swindon as part of the Year of Mental Health.

The 2018 Reading Well for Mental Health scheme will offer valuable support to people who are concerned about their own or someone else’s mental health and will be launched at Central Library next week.

The books, selected by The Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians, will be available for free in all Swindon’s core libraries and will include such titles as How to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax.

Swindon Libraries will also be helping to address mental health problems with a range of activities and programmes, including a monthly writing and reading group at Central Library and a series of informal writing groups at Penhill and Park Libraries.

Cllr Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, said: “Learning something new is one of the five best ways to enhance wellbeing and reading more about mental health problems can be a great way to start. Giving people the opportunity to be proactive in looking after their own mental health is essential.

“Much has been done recently to tackle the stigma that has been associated with mental health and having books available that make people aware of their own mental health issues can be the first step to improving wellbeing.”

Since its launch in 2013, the Reading Well programme has helped more than 778,000 people in the UK.

This year’s book list has been put together by a range of experts who have deemed it an effective way of finding out more about tackling mental health problems.

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, said: “We are delighted to be launching the new strand of this life changing programme, which uses the proven power of reading to help people manage their mental health and wellbeing.

“One in four of us will face a mental health issue at some point in our lives. This scheme, quality assured by medical professionals and people with lived experience, provides a much needed, trusted source of information.”

The programme will launch in Swindon at Central Library on Tuesday, June 5 at 9.15am.

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