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Books on Prescription - Merton

Books on prescription

What are books on prescription?

Many people, perhaps even the majority, develop emotional or psychological problems at some time during their life. Some need treatment but the Books on Prescription scheme provides mental health workers with an alternative and additional approach to a problem. Simply, a Doctor or mental health worker writes a "prescription" for a self-help book. The patient then takes that prescription to the Library, exchanges it for the book and then works through the exercises and suggestions included within the book.

There are many thousands of self-help books available but the Merton scheme is based on 40 titles suggested by mental health professionals to cover conditions such as: depression, anxiety, social phobia, panic, anger, stress, low self- esteem, eating disorders, obsessional-compulsive problems and the aftermath of abuse.

Download the Books on Prescription book list (52.1 KB)

The project originally evolved from a number of observations:

  • Most patients who seek professional help for mild to moderate mental health problems are treated exclusively in primary care.

  • Almost 25% of all consultations in primary care have a mental health component.

  • In many instances medication is the only practical treatment available to patients seen within primary care.

  • Many patients are reluctant to use medication as a treatment for emotional problems.

  • Psychological treatments have been shown to be highly effective for treating some mild to moderate mental heath problems.

  • Counselling services based in primary care offer such treatments, but in many cases available resources cannot match demand.


How does the books on prescription scheme work?

You can obtain a self-help book from any Merton library in 3 easy steps:

  1. Consult with your GP or Primary Health Care professional to obtain your book prescription.

  2. Present your prescription to a member of staff at your local library.

  3. Take your book on loan (if available) home with you.


Frequently asked questions

q. How long can I have a book on loan for?

a. You can borrow a book for an initial 9 weeks and provided that the book is not required by anybody else you can renew it for another 9 weeks.

q. If the book I have been prescribed is on loan can the library staff or I choose another book?

a. No, library staff can put a reservation on the book for you or have it sent from another library.

q. Do I have to be a member of the library service to make use of the scheme?

a. Yes. If you are not a member you can join the library service by presenting your prescription at any of Merton's libraries.

q. Can I reserve a book online?

a. Yes. Your prescription will waive the reservation fee provided that you present it to a member of library staff upon collection of the book