Patients being treated for long-term effects of coronavirus in County Durham and Darlington are benefitting from a new mental health and wellbeing initiative.
The Reading Well initiative, by The Reading Agency, is providing book collections to support patients in the region being treated for post covid syndrome, also known as long Covid.
The books are being provided to the County Durham Care Partnership for its two long Covid clinics at Shotley Bridge Hospital and Sedgefield Hospital.
The County Durham Care Partnership, made up of NHS organisations, Durham County Council, County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group and health care providers, established the clinics in January to provide primary, community, secondary, mental health and voluntary services to people suffering from long Covid.
Curated by health experts, the book collections have been carefully selected to provide helpful information for managing common mental health conditions and dealing with difficult feelings and experiences.
The Reading Agency has donated a set of 280 books from its adult mental health collection which covers topics such as overcoming health anxiety, tackling stress and panic, dealing with depression and mindfulness to improve wellbeing.
So far 2.6 million Reading Well books have been borrowed from public libraries nationally, and a survey of the Reading Well scheme found that 91 per cent of people benefitted from the books they received.
Cllr Paul Sexton, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for adults and health services, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Reading Well scheme. This will make a positive difference to the mental health and wellbeing of patients at our long Covid clinics. The books will provide an added level of support to patients while they are being cared for in their recovery.”
Michael Laing, director of integrated community services for the County Durham Care Partnership said: “Through the County Durham Care Partnership, we have been working with health professionals in the county and Darlington to develop an approach that looks after the mental and physical wellbeing of people suffering from long Covid.
“Having access to a book resource will be invaluable for the patients at the clinics, many of whom prior to this had no previous physical or mental health issues.”
Dr Jen Steel, GP and medical director for community services for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re very grateful to The Reading Agency for their generosity. Over a million people are experiencing symptoms of Covid lasting longer than four weeks.
“Across the county and Darlington, we’ve brought together support from many healthcare services and professionals to provide an individualised, personal approach, with access to physical and psychological support.
“In addition, we’re also involved in local and national research helping understand this new condition and develop services in the longer term.”