Starting tomorrow those in Devon with symptoms of depression, anxiety or eating disorders will be referred to clinics where they will be prescribed books to read alongside support sessions with graduate mental health care workers.
The plan aims to cut waiting lists for more serious cases, reduce over-prescription of drugs and offer some form of treatment for patients who may otherwise receive none.
'This is needs driven,' said Paul Farrand, a senior lecturer in health psychology at Plymouth University, who developed the scheme. 'Nine out of 10 people with mild or moderate depression do not receive any treatment at all. Others are put on long waiting lists or are given medication that may be unnecessary.'
Farrand said the scheme was developed following recommendations in a government report, Self-help interventions for mental health problems. By the summer there will be 80 self-help clinics in Devon, all using books based on cognitive behavioural therapy.