From the Dept. of Eccentric Brits today comes the story of the UK’s new Books on Prescription program, in which—get this—doctors will actually be prescribing books—in place of medicine—to patients with various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

According to a story in The Guardian, although the program was only officially announced last Thursday at the British Library, it’s actually been in development for the past year by a British charity known as the Reading Agency. “There is a growing evidence base,” said the Reading Agency’s chief executive, Miranda McKearney, “that shows that self-help reading can help people with certain mental health conditions to get better.”

A total of 30 so-called “prescription titles,” including books such as The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns, and Overcoming Anger and Irritability by William Davies, will be stocked in libraries across England once the program rolls out in May.

And if you think that’s surprising, how about this: “The Books on Prescription scheme,” according to The Guardian, “is based on a similar scheme in Wales pioneered by the Cardiff-based clinical psychologist Professor Neil Frude. Denmark has gone down the same road, and … New Zealand had just become the first country in the southern hemisphere to take up [the program].


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