Mental Health Awareness Week – Surviving or Thriving?

Read, learn and connect with us during this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week –

Libraries’ positive contribution to the mental well-being of the population is well documented – see the Arts Council’s publication on ‘The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries.’ 

I say population and not just customers or residents as it has been said that living near a library and, indeed, just walking past a library has a positive effect on one’s emotional and mental well-being.

Of course we in libraries are keen to invite people to come through the doors and experience the well-being benefits first hand. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ which encourages us to look at our physical and mental well-being.

Some of our offers are more obviously health focused, our health information displays encourage us to feed our brains with the right food and suggest ways to be more active, as well as giving information on managing and living well with chronic conditions.  Poor physical health can be a drain on our mental and emotional strength and poor mental health can lead to inactivity, poor diet and so the cycle continues.

One way to break cycles of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours is cognitive behavioural therapy and in the West London Clinical Commissioning Group area there is Time to Talk, a free psychological therapy service.

In order to help people decide whether this service is for them or for support while waiting for a referral, or during, or after therapy, the libraries’ Reading Well Books on Prescription collections are recommended by GPs and health promotion specialists. A new collection put together to support those living with chronic conditions will be launched in July this year.

The Reading Well Books on Prescription initiative is part of our Bibliotherapy offer. Our libraries host read aloud groups in partnership with The Reader Organisation. These facilitator led Book Break groups meet every week and give members the opportunity to join in reading aloud from good literature and discuss what has been read over a cup of tea or coffee or just sit back, listen and enjoy the company.

It is encouraging to look at how we in libraries contribute to what is called ‘the wider determinants of health’  All the things in our lives that support us, family, work, employment, housing, finances, education, lifelong learning, English classes, coffee mornings, knitting groups, activities for children and teenagers, employment advice, business information points for entrepreneurs old and young, all these available in libraries.

Libraries have always been inspirational and aspirational encouraging us to ask for more learning and knowledge and skills to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our families.

There are also some very good enjoyable fiction books available free to borrow hard copy or online! See our new book displays or see what eBooks and eMagazines we have. Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes can improve mental well-being?

See what you can do this Mental Health Awareness week to look after your own mental well-being, eat well, sleep well, go for a walk in one of our gorgeous parks and yes, visit your local library.

Kate Gielgud
Health Information Co-ordinator


Brian Sewell at Kensington Central Library

Brian Sewell
Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell – one of Britain’s greatest living critics and possibly one of the most controversial – came to Kensington Central Library on Thursday 21 February 2013. He was interviewed by Michael Volpe, Opera Holland Park’s General Manager. It was a fantastic evening and in case you missed it don’t worry as the interview was filmed. Over to Michael Volpe to tell us more….

Brian Sewell in conversation with Michael Volpe

In these short films, we present highlights of an evening in conversation between Brian Sewell, art critic and author and myself. I have known Brian for over twenty years, dealing with him both as art critic and as an author for our in-house publications at Opera Holland Park. I never doubted Brian’s ability to engage an audience – he has made a career of that – but the evening revealed a deeper and more nuanced personality that the public rarely see. 

The films present a clear-eyed Sewellian view of the arts world at large, the Arts Council, museums, the education system and a plethora of other subjects. He is never shy of giving his views and as one might expect, expresses them beautifully (and with an acute comic timing too!). Sewell is revealed as a passionate advocate for art and art history,  possessing a fierce commitment to connoisseurship and a deep reluctance to have any truck whatsoever with cultural vacuity.

 The discussion lasted nearly two hours with questions; we present a selection of threads from the evening and in total the films last approximately 45 minutes.

Michael Volpe
Michael Volpe

Michael Volpe