THE St Helens Library Service has launched a scheme to give young people with mental health issues access to free expert-endorsed help books.

Part of a national scheme, Reading Well will provide 13 to 18-year-olds with quality information, support and advice on a wide-range of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm, as well as difficult life pressures such as bullying and exams.

The recently published annual St Helens Council Public Health report stated stigma and discrimination for people with mental health problems was "still an issue in the UK and likewise in St Helens" leading to people often feeling "isolated and ashamed to talk about their mental health to other people".

Nationally one in 10 young people have a diagnosable mental health issue and the proportion of 15-16 year olds reporting they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years.

The books in the scheme can be recommended by GPs, school nurses, counsellors and other health professionals as well as being free to borrow from the library.

The recommended reading list of 35 books were selected by mental health experts and young people and features a wide range of self-help and information titles, memoirs, graphic novels and fiction.

It includes novels The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and popular non-fiction such as Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson, Blame My Brain: The Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed by Nicola Morgan and self-help guides Banish Your Body Image Thief and Breaking Free from OCD.

Sue Williamson, head of library services for St Helens Council, said: “Providing a place for young people to find genuinely helpful information away from potentially unreliable sources online is the main drive of this project – one that has proved successful in other areas, such as dementia.

"Aside from expert advice in our non-fiction books, there’s a lot of great, mainstream fiction available that might otherwise be overlooked as valuable sources of support on mental health issues, and our libraries are providing a space for it all to be presented in an accessible way.”