Wellbeing Collection

The Wellbeing collection is a selection of books, eBooks and audiobooks aimed at ALL staff employed by UKHSA, or who are working in UKHSA locations. The books are chosen with the aim of supporting your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. This page features events, book reviews, new in titles, and collection FAQs (such as how we select the books).
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Wellbeing collection question and answers
Want to learn more about the collection, view common Q&As below. 

We have a variety of books covering a number of topics. The range contains books on understanding dementia, help with caring for loved ones, books on coping with cancer, or many other diseases and long-term conditions. Books can be memoirs or sharing experiences, self-help, authoritative advice, or just a really good, uplifting story.

A full list of all the books is on the library catalogue.

We now have Books Beyond Words, books that support people who find pictures easier to understand than words. The list of books can be found Books Beyond Words booklist. More about Beyond Words can be found on the Beyond Words website

Be reassured, we provide quality information!

The core of the collection is made up from the Reading Agency’s Reading Well lists:

  • Books on Prescription, including Reading Well for mental health, Reading Well for dementia, and Reading Well for long term conditions.
  • Mood Boosting Books – we have used the 2016 and the 2018 lists of books chosen and voted for by reading groups across the country. A full list of the Mood Boosting books within the collection can be found Mood Boosting Books booklist

and the MacMillan Cancer Support core books list. The Knowledge and Library Services hold a selection of books from the MacMillan list, which can be viewed on the library catalogue. A full web Directory of Information Materials for People Affected by Cancer can be found online here: http://publications.macmillan.org.uk/

Titles on all these lists are books which have been selected by health professionals, people living with the conditions, and their relatives and carers. 

However, we also like to hear from you!
Through your recommendations the collection has grown to include books on topics such as resilience, stress or health conditions which are not covered in the lists. We like to know what has helped you, so please let us know if you have any recommendations to add to the collection whether that be a single book or a topic area you feel is missing.
Knowledge and Library Services staff have also identified topics for inclusion and expanded the collection.

Yes, books within the Wellbeing collection can be viewed by topic via our curated booklists. Topic specific booklists allow you to easily browse the Wellbeing collection based on your needs, currently we have the following booklists: 

Any member of UKHSA staff can visit a site library and borrow a book using the self-issue kiosks. Staff based on a site without a site library, or working remotely, can email [email protected] and have books posted to them whether they are currently based. 

We also have a selection of eBooks and audiobooks in the collection, these are predominantly from BorrowBox, find out more on the BorrowBox page

The Wellbeing collection contains a selection of titles on mental health and wellbeing topics. A list of all our current mental health titles is available on our mental health booklist. This includes, self-help books (including CBT techniques), memoirs and books on mindfulness and sleep.

Yes, the Wellbeing collection contains eBooks and audiobooks based upon your requests. 
Predominantly these are on BorrowBox. Find out more about BorrowBox on the BorrowBox page or you can browse eBooks and audiobooks available to you on the UKHSA BorrowBox library.

If you you would like to learn more about our eBooks, visit the eBooks page

The Reading Agency has compiled a list of Books on Prescription resources for Young People’s Mental Health. There is also additional books listed in the Healthy Ireland book collection, which cover topics for parenting, children and young adults. The Knowledge and Library Services’ do not hold a majority of these titles, however, they can be found in your local public library. You can find your nearest local public library on the GOV.UK Local library services page.

If looking for information on COVID-19, Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is available online. 

Bibliotherapy has been described as the provision of “…information, guidance and solace… through reading,” (McNicol & Brewster, 2018, p.xiii). It "...is a form of therapeutic interaction with either fiction and poetry (imaginative literature) or self-help informational texts,” (Brewster, Sen & Cox, 2012, p.185). 

There are two main types of bibliotherapy, there is creative bibliotherapy which is “the use of fiction, poetry, biographical writing and creative writing to improve health and wellbeing.” (Brewster, 2009, p.13). Creative bibliotherapy, encompasses reading groups and “the social discussion of texts”.  And there is self-help bibliotherapy which has been defined as “the prescription of non-fiction, advisory books about metal health or physical conditions;” however, it can also be a users own “quest for self-education and understanding” on these topics.

There a large body of evidence around bibliotherapy, especially self-help bibliotherapy (an example is its use for depression) – from both medical and psychology research but also library and information research.

The wellbeing collection at UKHSA is predominantly self-help bibliotherapy.

For our 2020 Virtual Book Festival two members of the Knowledge and Library Services team discussed how reading has helped their mental health and their experiences of reading  during COVID-19. Also explored is the evidence on how reading and bibliotherapy can improve your health and wellbeing. Read the PDF: Reading and mental health


Brewster, L., Sen, B., & Cox, A. (2012). Legitimising bibliotherapy: evidence‐based discourses in healthcare. Journal of Documentation, 68(2), 185-205. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220411211209186

Brewster, L. (2009). Reader development and mental wellbeing: The accidental bibliotherapist. Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, 22(1), 13-16.

McNicol, S., & Brewster, L. (Eds.). (2018). Bibliotherapy. London: Facet Publishing.



We understand that borrowing books on personal issues can sometimes be embarrassing, and that it might imply personal information about you that you do not want disclosed. Please be reassured that we are librarians who stick to our professional code of conduct and also abide by GDPR. We are proud of this collection and we want it to work for you.

In the site libraries there are self-issue kiosks. The first time you use a kiosk you may need contact with a librarian to set up your log-in and password – after that you can borrow and return books pretty much anonymously!


More than books…

Whilst we love books, other resources are available for UKHSA staff to support your wellbeing. Please visit the wellbeing resources available on the intranet.



Resources and organisations referenced on this page are intended as a useful guide for information purposes only. Inclusion or exclusion of resources does therefore not signify that Knowledge and Library Services endorse or do not endorse the activities of a particular organisation. Knowledge and Library Services are not responsible for the information or services provided by external organisations. 


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