Can reading books improve your mental health?

Can reading books improve your mental health?

via Psychology Today by Rob Whitley

Many bookworms remain worried that the ubiquitous use of social media is leading to a decline in reading books. But a number of surveys indicate that book-reading trends have actually remained stable over the last two decades.

For example, a 2017 Gallup Poll found that 35 percent of Americans read 10 or more books per year, the same level as 2002. Likewise, a Pew Research Forum survey found that book-reading habits remained largely unchanged from 2012 to 2016, with the average American reading 4 books per year.

Interestingly, this survey found that 27 percent of Americans did not read any books at all in 2016.


A relatively unknown mental health intervention is “bibliotherapy” or “reading therapy.” This mainly refers to structured book-reading programs run by clinics, libraries, or schools aimed at promoting recovery in people with mental health difficulties.

Such groups remain uncommon, despite the efforts of organizations such as the American Library Association, which houses a number of bibliotherapy resources on their website for adults and children.

The term bibliotherapy is also used to refer to self-initiated book reading pursued by an individual with mental illness. This can be supported by a clinician, family member or peer supporter, or simply pursued alone.

Several studies have examined whether bibliotherapy can facilitate recovery from mental illness. One classic study found a decrease in depressive symptoms after a program of bibliotherapy, a finding repeated in more recent meta-analyses and systematic reviews

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