Don’t you just love how reading can lift your spirits? I’ve usually got a book on the go but during the occasional reading drought, when I’ve been too busy to stock up on new books, I really notice how it affects how I feel. Reading helps to take me out of my own ‘me, me, me’ world into a wonderful new, magical world and, to be honest, without it I soon feel myself slipping into a low mood.
So I’m really pleased to hear that the theme of this year’s World Book Night on 23rd April is how reading benefits mental health. The annual event, run by national charity The Reading Agency helps to get books to people who don’t read for pleasure or who don’t own their own books. Publishers donate books which are then gifted to prisons, hospitals, care homes and mental health charities – and among the books being donated this year will be ones that explore mental health and wellbeing.
There has been lots of research about the benefits of reading for mental health, including increasing self-esteem, improving communication between parents and children and reducing stress, anxiety and depression. In one study, reading for just six minutes was found to decrease stress levels by 68% – amazingly it’s a quicker and more effective stress buster than going for a walk or listening to music!
I totally understand the power of books and how reading benefits mental health. When I was a child, I remember going through periods of anxiety when books were a real solace to me. Whatever was happening around me, I could completely lose myself in a story and it calmed and comforted me. With a book by my side, it felt like everything was going to be OK.
With one in ten children and young people affected by mental health problems – that’s three out of every 30 in a classroom – isn’t it incredible to think that something as simple as reading a book could help them?
From my own experience – as a child and now as an adult – I know how truly uplifting reading can be.
* Tidy Book holds a monthly collection for children’s books that we donate to Give a Book for distribution to schools and prison. For details, please contact us on 020 8520 4647