Turning the page on support for children's mental health

20 November 2020 

I hope you are all staying safe and managing your workloads in a way which is conducive to your wellbeing. For this week, I thought I’d focus on something not directly COVID-19 related.

A new scheme has been launched in Wales to help children understand and manage their mental health and wellbeing through reading.

Reading Well Books on Prescription for children has been developed by leading health professionals alongside children and their families, and is being brought to Wales by UK charity, The Reading Agency in partnership with Welsh Government and public libraries.

Reading Well for children is the third Reading Well scheme to be delivered in Wales following the success of the dementia (1.06 MB PDF) and mental health (1.26 MB PDF) book collections.   

I first became aware of The Reading Agency, the charity behind the project, when I spoke to one of their team at the RCGP Annual Conference last year.

I was delighted to be given a copy of Mamgu a FI until I realised it was about Mamgu developing dementia. I hope it can stay on the bookshelf for a while yet!

Since that point I’ve remained in touch with them to understand more about their work in Wales and was pleased to attend their launch of this latest project. Our policy officer also sits on their advisory board for Wales.

The booklist

The Reading Well for children booklist (885 KB PDF) contains 33 books selected to address key challenges facing children today.

Titles deal with topics from anxiety and grief, bullying and internet safety, to how to cope with events in the news.

The booklist also explores living well with a range of diagnosed conditions including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dyslexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and physical disabilities. 

Targeted at children in Key Stage Two, the booklist includes titles suitable for a wide range of reading levels to support less confident readers, and to encourage children to read together with their siblings and carers.

How can GPs get involved?

Titles from the booklist can be recommended by health and social care professionals, teachers and anyone else working to support children and families.

User leaflets are available from health boards and local library services and digital versions can be downloaded from the Reading Well website

People visit their local library where the titles can be borrowed for free and many are available for e-lending. Books can also be borrowed without a prescription. 

For further information to help you deliver the scheme, email readingwell@readingagency.org.uk or visit the Reading Well website.

Post written by

Dr Mair Hopkin, Joint Chair of RCGP Wales

Dr Mair Hopkin qualified in 1980 and was a partner at the Old School Surgery in Pontyclun until 2019. She has served as Chair and Provost of the South East Wales Faculty, as well as being Faculty Representative to RCGP’s UK Council.

Mair has a keen interest in child development and children's and women’s health. She introduced a Well Baby clinic before it became part of the GP contract, and has co-authored a book on child health development in Wales. She has also developed an interest in medical education. She is currently an Associate Dean in the Wales Deanery.

She married a farmer and lived on a working farm for three decades. She has three children, one of whom is a GP, and four grandchildren. She is a Welsh learner.

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