Reading agency 14

Reading Well promotes the benefits of reading for health and wellbeing. The programme has two strands: Reading Well and Mood-boosting Books.

Reading Well

Reading Well helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The scheme is endorsed by health professionals and supported by public libraries. Health professionals involved in the book selection process never have any conflict of interest with the titles selected for each book list.

There are currently four book lists available: Reading Well Books on Prescription for common mental health conditions, Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia and Reading Well for young people and Reading Well for long term conditions.

Reading Well was recognized by the Royal Society of Public Health as a finalist for the 2017 Public Mental Health and Wellbeing Award.

Evaluation and evidence base

There is a huge evidence base around the value of reading to support health and wellbeing, as well as the value of libraries as a non-stigmatised space that is both welcoming and empowering for people with mental health problems.

The Reading Well programme is evaluated each year to ensure that it continues to deliver positive outcomes. Health professionals, library staff and users are surveyed on their experiences of the programme, as well as information on reach being calculated through book loans and book sales data. To date, The Reading Well programme has reached over 778,000 users.

You can find out more about evaluation here.


Reading Well is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians as part of the Society of Chief Librarians’ Universal Health Offer. It is funded by Arts Council England and Wellcome.

The programme is supported by:

• British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
• British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
• The British Psychological Society
• Mind
• National Association of Primary Care
NHS England through its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme (IAPT)
• Royal College of General Practitioners
• Royal College of Nursing
• Royal College of Psychiatrists
• Mental Health First Aid England

Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia is additionally supported by:

• Alzheimer’s Society
• Carers UK
• Dementia UK
• Innovations in Dementia

Reading Well for young people is additionally supported by:

• The Mental Health Foundation
NHS England (Children and Young People’s Mental Health)
• Public Health England
• YoungMinds

Reading Well for long term conditions is additionally supported by:

• British Heart Foundation
• British Lung Foundation
• Carers Trust
• Diabetes UK
• Health Education England
• The IBS Network
• Self Management UK
• The Stroke Association

Reading Well Mood-boosting Books

Reading Well Mood-boosting Books scheme is a national promotion of uplifting titles, including novels, poetry and non-fiction. The books are all recommended by readers and reading groups.

We suggest that people using the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme may also like to try some mood-boosting fiction or poetry, but the books are not prescribed, endorsed or recommended by health professionals.

Reading Well Mood-boosting Books is delivered by The Reading Agency, working with public libraries, NHS trusts and colleges throughout the UK.

We have also worked in collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support to produce book lists recommended by people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Promotional Material

You can order promotional material including leaflets containing our booklists from our online shop.