Free books donated to support mental health this World Book Night

Southampton City Libraries has teamed up with the Reading Agency to donate 80 books to Hampshire’s largest mental health charity, Solent Mind, to give away free to clients across their services to celebrate World Book Night on Friday 23 April.

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World Book Night is an annual celebration of books and reading overseen by the Reading Agency, a charity that helps tackle social isolation and mental health through the proven power of reading.

This year the theme for World Book Night is ‘Books That Make You Smile’ and libraries, charities, colleges and prisons are encouraged to gift 1000s of free books to benefit people who don’t normally read or have access to books so they can start their reading journey.

Over 80 copies of the book Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe have been donated to Solent Mind, who will give the books to people using its Lighthouse crisis service in Southampton.

Carolyn Abel, Head of Culture and Tourism at Southampton City Council, said: “It’s fantastic to be working with Solent Mind to help gift books to clients. Reading for pleasure is a great way to relax, escape to different worlds and reduce stress and anxiety. Remember, your local library has 1000s of books you can borrow for free using your library card.”

Clare Grant, Assistant Director of Services at Solent Mind, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer a range of books to people using our Lighthouse crisis service. Getting stuck into a book is a great way to take time out and take care of their own wellbeing and the title we have been given includes lots of tips and strategies on self-care that will continue to benefit people’s mental health after their visit to us.

“We are very grateful to be working with Southampton Library service on this great initiative.”

During the past year and through lockdown reading became a powerful way to manage mental health and well-being, with many people finding solace, escapism and pleasure in a good book. The library service saw a huge increase in the use of its digital books platform and many reading groups switched to online rather than meeting in person.

Natasha from the library’s reading group provides an insight into how reading and being part of a group was a lifeline for her during lockdown: “I have been an avid reader for all my life, finding in books a magical way to visit other worlds and meet numerous wonderful characters. When lockdown came my world, as with so many others, shrank. From travelling, going to work, meeting friends I suddenly had a small flat with no outside space and an ill, vulnerable husband. It was a terrible blow when I realised that I didn’t even have my book group to look forward to so when it was suggested we carry on but on Zoom I was delighted. My mind goes to other worlds and other lives and I get excited and sad - a multitude of emotions. Every month when I close down the computer I am smiling, energised and go to my husband and tell him - that was so much fun!”

For more information about your local library and how to join, visit: Southampton libraries

If you need mental wellbeing support, our community partner SOLinked has a list of charities to support you on their Coronavirus Community Links page.

You can also find helpful advice to support your mental wellbeing, including a simple self-assessment, on the NHS Every Mind Matters website.