“This one-year research study concluded that shared reading groups helped patients suffering from depression in terms of their social, mental, emotional and psychological well-being. The clinical data indicated that statistically significant improvements in the mental health of depressed patients had occurred during the 12-month period in which they had attended reading groups.
It found that there were four significant ‘mechanisms of action’ involved in the reading group intervention, three of which were essential to its success, the fourth influential:
– A rich, varied, non-prescriptive diet of serious literature
– The role of the group facilitator in making the literature ‘live’ in the room
– The role of the group in offering support and a sense of community
– The creation of stimulating, non-pressurised, non-judgemental atmosphere (‘not like school’, as one participant emphatically put it) overrode considerations of physical environment
The report also established what types of literature work, why they work and how they work in the specific context of depressive illness.”
From, and Download the report (PDF): http://www.thereader.org.uk/media/72227/Therapeutic_benefits_of_reading_final_report_March_2011.pdf
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“Getting stuck into a good novel appears to be beneficial to our mental health. As the old saying goes: ‘You’re never alone with a book.’
Reading not only staves off feelings of loneliness, it helps us to wind down, destress and forget our own problems for a while.
In 2009, researchers at the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds, more than listening to music or going out for a walk. It is thought that the concentration required to read distracts the mind, easing muscle tension and slowing the heart rate.
Reading may be good for physical health too, preventing brain ageing and disease.
A study, just published in the Archives of Neurology, from the University of California, Berkeley, found that engaging in brain-stimulating pursuits including reading on a daily basis – from a young age – could help prevent Alzheimer’s by inhibiting the formation of the amyloid (protein) plaques which are found in the brains of those with the disease.
Scientists scanned the brains of healthy adults aged 60 and over (average age was 76) with no signs of dementia and found those who had been doing daily brain-stimulating activities, such as reading, playing chess, and writing letters since they were six years old showed very low levels of amyloid plaques. But those who did not enjoy these activities had lots of plaques.”
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