Mental Health Awareness Week,10th – 16th May – #ConnectWithNature

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, 10th – 16th May 2021  on the theme of Nature. The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging all of us to connect with nature (Further information about why they have chosen this theme here)

What could be more perfect than getting lost in a good book in the midst of a bluebell wood listening to birdsong?

The goals for the week are described as:

  • Firstly, to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have for their mental health.
  • Secondly, to convince decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.

Here are their Tops Tips for Connecting with Nature

We have a growing collection of books in the library on the theme of nature – including diaries, memoirs, what to spot in your garden, rewilding projects and including Helen Macdonald and Robert Macfarlane’s books. Have a browse of the library Nature and Wildlife padlet to explore the books available on this theme.

Many people have talked about how since the arrival of COVID and the lockdown periods they have come to appreciate their immediate surroundings and the plants and wildlife in their gardens and find it calming – a tonic for their wellbeing. I include myself in this number, having become fascinated by the birds in my garden and enjoying local walks in search of bluebells and ducklings at this time of year.  In the library we have been developing a collection of books on wildlife and nature writing. It ranges from memoirs which explore training a goshawk as a way of overcoming a sudden bereavement – ‘H is for Hawk’ by Helen Macdonald to ‘The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary’ by Emma Mitchell including beautiful nature drawings, photos and honest reflections on the author’s struggles with depression. We also have books on bird identification and ‘Bird Therapy’ by Joe Harkness and ‘The Garden Jungle: or Gardening to Save the Planet’ by Dave Goulson. Described thus: The Garden Jungle is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet.  

We are so lucky to live and work in a beautiful environment with deer in the woods and at this time of year ducklings and goslings on the lake. Have a look at the Welly Wildlife website for more about the habitats and species around us and follow @WellyWildlife on Twitter.

We also have library padlets on the themes of  Mental Health and Wellbeing and Feelgood Fiction. The books are available to borrow from the library and may also be available as e-books.

 

Mood-boosting books

Here is a list of feelgood books put together by young people: Mood-boosting Books – A 2018 list chosen by young people

You can read about this in a blog post from the Reading Agency – Moodboosting books for young people – blog post

 

 

 

Exeter University students have also put together a collection of books to recommend to new students called ‘The Freshlist’ – 12 Mood-boosting books to get you through the year. I also loved ‘The Humans’ by Matt Haig.

Shelf-help – Books on Prescription

As well as escapist fiction or gritty reality stories or weepy books which can make us feel surprisingly better at times, we have a collection of factual books to help with mental health issues. We stock the books on the Reading Agency ‘Reading Well’ list for Young People which is described as:

Reading Well Books on Prescription helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The books are chosen by health experts and people living with the conditions covered. People can be recommended a title by a health professional, or they can visit their local library and take a book out for free. 

The books are on a range of issues including ADHD, Anxiety, worry and panic, Autism and Asperger syndrome, body image and eating disorders, bullying, confidence and self-esteem, depression, mood swings, OCD, self-harm and stress.

Here is the Reading Well list for young children

This is the list of Books on Prescription – Reading Well for adults

Book suggestions on reading for wellbeing

  • The reading cure : how books restored my appetite by Laura Freeman
  • The novel cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin This is a fascinating book to dip into with suggested books for any number of maladies from long-windedness (the cure being Cormac McCarthy as The Road is ‘an exemplary model of short-windedness’) to stubbed toe, low self-esteem and being different.

Mental Health Awareness and Libraries Week – books and dogs the perfect mood boosting combination!

To coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2019 our Deputy Head (Safeguarding), Mrs Lynch, has put together a Mental Health Awareness Week (7th – 12th October) to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health and how we can all help with our own and others’ wellbeing. The library is keen to support this initiative and highlight ways libraries and reading can support wellbeing. Don’t forget it’s Libraries Week too! There are many articles and research reports linking reading for pleasure and improved wellbeing.  The National Literacy Trust has an article on Mental wellbeing, reading and writing and an in depth research study on this subject from 2017 – 2018. Similarly the Reading Agency: Reading for pleasure builds empathy and improves wellbeing research from the reading agency finds.

Libraries are non-judgmental, welcoming places and we love to see all students, parents, visitors and staff (and in particular their toddlers who confidently stride over to the picturebook boxes to take out ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ for the nth time to the inward groans of their parents!).

Dog drop-ins in the Library next Monday to Wednesday.

If you love dogs like me you’ll be pleased to hear we are having some visits to the library next week. If you are missing your pet why not come along for some time with staff dogs at break and lunchtime? The dogs always enjoy being made a fuss of by the students. In the past we’ve had special days when friendly dogs have visited us in the library as a break from intense revision and exam stress in the summer term but this time we are having dogs individually for a calmer, peaceful atmosphere. Mrs Lynch shared some interesting articles on the benefits of pets on stress and depression. It was good to see public libraries introducing times with dogs too – Three Edinburgh Libraries to trial dog friendly days

Cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions.

Alleviating Anxiety, Stress and Depression with the Pet Effect

Mood-boosting books

We are encouraging suggestions for your favourite mood-boosting books. Add your favourites to the flip-chart in the library next week and we’ll compile a list. My husband and son both went for ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams as their top feelgood read. Over lunch today teaching colleagues recommended Factfulness by Hans Rosling, The Great Gatsby, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and Middlemarch by George Eliot.

Here is a list of feelgood books put together by young people: Mood-boosting Books – A 2018 list chosen by young people

You can read about this in a blog post from the Reading Agency – Moodboosting books for young people – blog post

I  also came across a nice libguide from Exeter University promoting their Wellbeing book collection

Exeter University students have also put together a collection of books to recommend to new students called ‘The Freshlist’ – 12 Mood-boosting books to get you through the year. I also loved ‘The Humans’ by Matt Haig.

Shelf-help – Books on Prescription

As well as escapist fiction or gritty reality stories or weepy books which can make us feeling surprisingly better at times we have a collection of factual books to help with mental health issues. We stock the books on the Reading Agency ‘Reading Well’ list which is described as:

Reading Well Books on Prescription helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The books are chosen by health experts and people living with the conditions covered. People can be recommended a title by a health professional, or they can visit their local library and take a book out for free. 

The books are on a range of issues including ADHD, Anxiety, worry and panic, Autism and Asperger syndrome, body image and eating disorders, bullying, confidence and self-esteem, depression, mood swings, OCD, self-harm and stress.

Book suggestions on reading for wellbeing

  • The reading cure : how books restored my appetite by Laura Freeman
  • The novel cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin This is a fascinating book to dip into with suggested books for any number of maladies from long-windedness (the cure being Cormac McCarthy as The Road is ‘an exemplary model of short-windedness’) to stubbed toe, low self-esteem and being different.

Chess and Boardgames

As well as being a place for quite individual study and group study where projects are discussed and revision worked on together, the library offers big chess, small chess and now an electronic chess set – play against the set itself using an app and an informal gathering place in the foyer particularly popular at break and lunchtime. We’ve set up a jigsaw for anyone to add to and work on during spare minutes. This provides a lovely opportunity for informal conversations and different groupings of staff and students. Quick to play board and card games are available to borrow from the library – Dobble and Wordaround are the top favourites.

Projects promoting reading for pleasure and shared reading

There are many schemes and collections promoting the value of reading for pleasure. Some Universities have excellent schemes to encourage new students to keep reading for pleasure. Kingston University initiated the Big Read – giving a novel to all new students and having author talks and discussions about the book. This year they chose to give out ‘The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce. This is wonderful project which fosters a sense of community and belonging and gives staff and students a focal point for informal chats and sharing the enjoyment of talking about a good book.  Edgehill University have joined the scheme too. We are planning to have a Wellington College Big Read next summer to bring the College community together over a shared reading experience.

Getting lost in an epic fantasy novel (preferably with many books in the series!) can provide wonderful escapism from daily stresses or worries. We stock a wide range of fiction from fantasy to graphic novels, short stories, contemporary literary fiction to the classics. We have quick reads and film tie-ins. We now have Wheelers eplatform so that staff and students can listen to an audio book on their way to long away Sports matches on the app on their phones. We stock plenty of interesting and readable non-fiction to extend your subject knowledge too.

What does the library offer:

  • Audio books – Particularly popular titles are ‘Ready Player One’ and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Graphic novels
  • E-books from Browns Books for Students VLeBooks
  • A place to meet and discuss – the library is the venue for many academic and cultural clubs and societies such as Debating, Med Soc, Creative Writing, Phil-Thy (Philosophy and Theology), Pheng (Philosophy and English) and Public Speaking.
  • Popular science – in particular the Royal Society Science Book Prize Shortlists (current and from the past few years) Join in with the Science discussion group by reading one of this year’s shortlisted books.
  • YA fiction – I’ve been recommending the ‘Scythe’ books by Neal Shusterman and these are proving hugely popular.
  • Contemporary literary fiction
  • Shelf help – Reading Agency -reading well – Books on Prescription – young people and mental health