November 9, 2018
Study discovers reading can ease mental health and loneliness, asks for £200 million in literacy aid
by Christina Cerio
Literacy charity Reading Agency and UK think tank Demos teamed up to raise awareness for the transformative power of reading.
The 50-page study calls for a £200 million government investment to promote reading. Journalist Arifa Akbar in a Guardian article on the recent study smartly quoted CS Lewis as an opener, “we read to know we are not alone.” This mentality towards reading seems to be needed now more than ever.
To summarize the importance of the study and the urgent need for immediate action, the Reading Agency Chief Executive Sue Wilkinson said,
“Demos’s predictions for 2030 offer a desperately concerning outlook. If we don’t start to tackle issues of loneliness, mental health and social mobility now, then we will continue to put pressure on our vital workforces such as the care sector and the NHS. The forecasts for the loneliness epidemic are particularly shocking, but reading can be part of the solution. As this report demonstrates, it is not only an essential life skill but has huge power to bring people together to combat loneliness among all age groups. Through reading-based national interventions, we can future-proof our society, and ultimately use reading to help protect younger generations at risk of rising levels of loneliness. We have already seen through our Reading Friends programme that social reading can have profound impact on older people who are often the most vulnerable in society. We hope these benefits will eventually be opened up to everyone.”
As a society, we know that reading is good, even life-changing for all people. The question is, will the UK government take the study’s advice and inject a £200 million investment? They should. But, in the meantime, support your local libraries and bookstores.
Christina Cerio is an intern at Melville House.