At some point in our lives, we may all be faced with an issue or concern that affects our health or wellbeing. It can be a worrying and isolating time, but having easy access to information, and gaining a greater understanding of the condition, can make all the difference.

Dr You is a new initiative aimed at supporting people to take control of their health and wellbeing.

The project, a partnership between NHS Western Isles, the Comhairle’s library service, and local health organisations, provides books and information on health issues and concerns, available through the branch and mobile libraries across the Isles.

The initiative was launched  at Stornoway Library, by Dr Maggie Watts, Director of Public Health, NHS Western Isles.

The collections of self-help books cover a range of mental health issues, such as depression, stress, eating disorders and low self-esteem and aim to provide support and guidance to give sufferers support to manage their conditions.

The collections also contain books on physical health ailments such as cancer, dementia, multiple sclerosis and stroke and are aimed at providing information and strategies for coping for both sufferers and families.  There are books for children and young people as well, providing support for them and their families in dealing with the challenges of living with autism and other developmental difficulties.

Dr Watts commented: “This is an excellent set of resources to support people, alongside going to the doctor, to give them something to take away and look at, at home. We look forward to adding to the resources already available.”

Shannon Finlayson, Principal Educational Psychologist, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, was also in attendance for the launch. She commented: “I have worked here for around 15 years and over the years I have essentially been a ‘resource library’ for my clients, loaning a range of books to different people. I think it’s great that these types of books are now available in the library. I hope that the service is well publicized so that people know they can come in to the library and start using these books.”

Don Maclean from the Hebridean Men’s Cancer Group also commented on the new service: “The Hebridean Men’s Cancer Group meets in the retirement centre in Stornoway every week, and is attended by around 25 to 30 men. This initiative is welcomed from our point of view. When men are diagnosed, the more information that is available to them about their prognosis and the future, the better.  We will be promoting this initiative to men, and hope that they will use it.”

Also welcoming the new service were Del Gunn from the Western Isles Association for Mental Health and Mike Sullivan, NHS Western Isles Community Mental Health Worker (Children and Young People), NHS Western Isles.

Mr Sullivan commented: “This initiative complements the Cook2Talk confidential health advice and information website we offer to young people, and we will be able to signpost people to this service. There are still young people who prefer to pick up a book to get information, and it’s good to be able to give them that option.”

The topics covered in the Dr You collection were identified in discussion with local medical and health practitioners, who also recommended many of the titles.  It was important that the Dr You books reflected the needs of local communities and contained titles that were known to be useful. While the books can be helpful on their own, it is recommended that they are used along with the support of a health professional.

Anyone wanting to borrow one of the Dr You books can do so by visiting their local library or arranging a visit from the mobile library service.  It is free to become a member of the library and to borrow books, simply bring along some proof of address when you visit.  If a book isn’t immediately available, it can easily be reserved.  Those wanting to find out more about Dr You and see a full list of the books available can visit for more information.

Dr You is a partnership between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Public Library Service and Department of Education & Children’s Services; NHS Western Isles’ Health Information & Resources Service, Community Psychiatric Nursing Service, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Team and Macmillan Nursing Service; Advocacy Western Isles; Western Isles Association for Mental Health; Western Isles Community Care Forum and Alzheimer Scotland (Lewis & Harris Services).  Dr You was funded from the Scottish Government through the support of the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC).