Studies show positive benefits to mental health from reading

Studies show positive benefits to mental health from reading
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 5:40 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 6:44 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - We’ve long known that we can find comfort, solace and help in the pages of a book.

Now, research is showing even more benefits to reading.

We spoke with the CEO and President of Building Blocks here in Evansville, who walked us through some of the major benefits of reading - not only in children but in adults, too.

Aleisha Sheridan says in 2009 there was a study done on the effects of reading that showed a 70% decrease in stress levels.

Sheridan says even more studies show that even six minutes of reading could reduce stress, and 30 minutes would be the equivalent of doing 30 minutes of yoga.

In even more recent research, a 2016 study from Yale University School of Public Health found that people who read books had a 20% reduction in risk of death over 12 years compared with non-book readers.

While not everyone is prone to pick up a book regularly, Sheridan challenges you to benefit from a new book.

”Some people do not like reading,” Sheridan said. “But knowing that there is that escape from your day-to-day life that you can create, step into a new world or read an autobiography. Something of interest to you. Even audiobooks. Being able to listen and just connect other than just your day-to-day and be able to relieve and escape that any stressors of the day.”

Sheridan even tells me that reading has been proven to help people with dementia.

Studies show positive benefits to mental health from reading - Pt II

She says from adults to children, there are benefits to fit all ages.

“Helping with depression, helping with all kinds of those things,” Sheridan said. “There are books out there to talk about those things but it doesn’t necessarily have to focus on that. But children, reading with your child opens up all kinds of doors. There’s a closeness to the connectivity of just physically being in the same space then being able to talk about the topics that are there in the books.”

Studies show positive benefits to mental health from reading - Pt III

The Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library says they put a big focus on mental health, not only with their employees, but everyone who goes through their doors

Part of that comes from their community outreach team that provides curated material for educational organizations and brings positive relationships to children and young adults.

They say that can even look like traveling to more rural or disadvantaged areas and provide resources like library cards, scheduled stops to drop off books and even a partnership with meals on wheels.

From staff training awareness to those community outreach programs, EVPL says through books they can make those deep, personal connections.

“We’ve had individuals reach out in the past and ask if we have any resources about families of different shapes and sizes or colors,” said Kassidy Krown, marketing and public relations manager at EVPL. “We’ve had different individuals reach out and say, ‘you know, my child may have been adopted but we haven’t had that conversation yet. Do you have any books that provide support to that parent, that parental role and how to have that conversation as well as through younger kids, do you have any books that are geared towards their age that kind of shows what this means?’”

The EVPL also has some mental health resources and tips on its website.

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