Libraries on prescription
Working together to unlock the healing power of stories for people with complex social and mental health challenges.
Can libraries be therapeutic? The answer is yes! Stories have the ability to change us at the emotional, social, behavioral and psychological level. When stories use words and pictures together, in the format of books and particular comics then their healing factor grows bigger. Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there was a need for creative ways to speak and engage people around the issue of mental health. Now, more than ever people have stories and personal experiences they need to share, characters they would like to relate to and safe spaces to do so. We believe that a library could be such a space for anyone who is struggling with their mental health or for bringing forward the urgency to tackle mental health.
Athens Comics Library is working together with Refugee Week Greece – a community initiative celebrating the contribution and creativity of people who have experienced migration – to unlock the therapeutic power of stories.
They are creating a ‘Library on Prescription’ scheme – offering a range of psychosocial and creative services to help provide safe spaces for people to connect and heal. They believe that sharing stories and experiences with mental health and illness is an important way of reducing stigma, raising mental health awareness, and building a sense of community.
Together, they have reached out to 45 libraries across Greece and selected four to design and deliver a programme of tailored-made creative activities for local communities facing mental health challenges – from Athens to Crete – to pilot the initiative with different groups, including young people, people with learning disabilities, elderly women in rural areas and prisoners.
Their vision is to create a toolkit for a 12-week Libraries on Prescription course for libraries across Greece and Europe to help deliver the programme and a campaign to educate and advocate for mental health across Europe. With sufficient funding, the challenge team believes the programme could have a long-lasting impact on the well-being of people across Greece, while also promoting the cultural sector. They also believe it could be implemented by the National Health System, as a cultural prescription scheme.
You can download their Libraries on Prescription report here.