People across Scotland are being urged to pledge six minutes towards reading as part of a campaign to help boost wellbeing and mental health.
The ‘Keep the heid and read‘ campaign is asking Scots to take part in a reading moment for the nation on Wednesday, May 11, during mental health awareness week.
It is being backed by the the Scottish Library and Information Council, as well as mental health charities including SAMH and the Mental Health Foundation Scotland.
The campaign is inspired by research by the University of Sussex which suggests that reading for just six minutes a day can boost mental health and wellbeing by 68%.
Pamela Tulloch, chief executive of the Scottish Libraries & Information Council, has encouraged people to take part in the campaign and to read for six minutes on May 11.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Tulloch explained the benefits of reading by taking people away from the everyday pressures of life.
“If you’re engrossed in a book, be it a physical book or an audiobook, you’re taking yourself out of everyday pressures for a decent period of time, giving your brain some downtime, and engaging in something else for a focus period of six minutes, actually re-energises you,” she said.
“And I suppose as well, you’ve got all the added benefits of engaging with a good book, a good story, developing empathy and understanding, and so much more.”
Tulloch urged people to speak with library staff across the country who can help them to decide on which books to read.
“There’s trained staff in libraries right across Scotland who can help you navigate that choice and help find something that’s that little bit different for you,” she said.
“Or something that might actually nudge you out of your comfort zone and help you try something you wouldn’t necessarily choose for yourself.”
And Tulloch explained that it could even be a newspaper or a recipe book, not just a novel.
She said: “I think anything that actually captivates your attention for six minutes.
“So that could be reading a recipe book, it could be reading a newspaper, it could be engaging with a car manual.
“Anything that actually focuses your attention for that period of time is worth while.”
Tulloch added: “Reading can take many shapes and forms so you don’t need to be a strong reader to necessarily engage with reading.
“And I would stress that people should go and visit their library and speak to staff there.
“A lot of people call libraries hospitals for the mind and I think the range of activities that are happening in libraries engage people with reading in so many different ways.”