How Reading Can Help Your Mental Health

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Most of us know that reading is the best way to boost general knowledge and literacy, but did you know that reading is also good for your mental health?

Reading has some surprising benefits. A Yale University School of Public Health study in 2016 found that people who read books have a 20 percent reduction in their risk of death over a twelve-year period, when compared to non-book readers.

Furthermore, research from Oxford University Press found that reading complex books with challenging language boosts brain activity, which boosts our mental health.

In these stressful times, we all need to make more time for reading books for pleasure… and now we have an extra reason for doing so! Reading fiction can help to improve mental health.

Books to help you overcome mental health problems

Now, the Reading Agency has developed a reading list to help anyone who feels like they are struggling with their mental health. Reading Well for mental health has been designed to “provide helpful information and support for managing common mental health conditions, or dealing with difficult feelings and experiences”. You can find details of their recommendations online here.

The list includes books that offer an introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as well as books dealing with a variety of mental health issues, including grief, overcoming shyness and social anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, eating disorders and OCD. Also included are A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax and the wonderful Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.

Books for children to help them overcome mental health problems

The Reading Agency has also developed a Reading Well for children booklist. Launched on the first day of Children’s Mental Health Week 2020, Reading Well has been recognised by the Royal Society for Public Health and was developed in partnership with Libraries Connected.

Created in response to concerning data about children’s mental health, the list covers areas such as anxiety, bereavement and bullying.

It includes books by Michael Rosen, Tom Percival, Zanib Mian, and Joseph Coelho, all selected by leading mental health experts to support children’s mental health and well-being.