Take one book a day with water

VIRGINIA WINDER , NORTH TARANAKI MIDWEEK
Last updated 09:21 06/10/2011

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A Taranaki mental health initiative that encourages people to read prescribed books, is being hailed a first for New Zealand – and beyond.

Turn The Page – Tahuri Atu Te Wharangi was launched at Puke Ariki in New Plymouth on Monday to kick off Mental Health Awareness Week.

"This is a bit of a first for the Southern Hemisphere as far as we know," says Andrew Brock, Midlands Health Network community relationship manager. "It's very, very exciting."

This collaboration between Midlands Health, Puke Ariki and Like Minds Taranaki is for people struggling with mild to mental illness.

They can go to their GP for a Turn The Page prescription, which they can take to Puke Ariki or one of the district libraries to borrow a book for free.

Andrew says the programme is now being rolled out to the rest of Taranaki and is likely to extend to other parts of New Zealand.

"The idea is that it will continue to grow and get bigger and bigger, and improve the well-being and outlook of people out there."

New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven, who officially launched the programme, says that statistics show 46 per cent of the population will experience mental illness at some time in their lives.

"Yet, despite the fact it is so common, the stigma and discrimination of having a mental illness means that only two out of three people seek help and support."

Harry says that libraries are treasured community spaces, where people are made welcome.

"We hope that the accessible open nature of libraries means that through Turn The Page more people feel able to reach out and find help so they too can reach their potential."

Puke Ariki service delivery manager Dale Cousens says the two-wing knowledge and heritage centre was delighted to be invited to be part of Turn The Page.

"It took us all of two seconds to say yes when Andrew approached us."

She says the concept came from a successful UK model – "We have taken it and made it our own."

Like Minds Taranaki manager Gordon Hudson says Turn the Page lets patients learn more about their mental health situation in their own time, at their own convenience, and they can use this information to better manage their recovery and ongoing wellness.

"It's a win, win, win project. It's not just going to be something that GPs can be part of, but anybody in the mental health sector can recommend it to people. It's exciting that the libraries have taken this on."

The catalogue for Turn The Page books is also available online at: pukeariki.com

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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