In Greece, Athens Comics Library has initiated the first social prescribing programme in Greece: “Libraries on Prescription”. The aim of the programme is to include more than 30 libraries and 200 library and psychosocial support professionals in Greece over a period of 24 months, and is a cross-sectoral collaboration of libraries, health professionals and cultural activities to improve mental health and well-being through culture.
With the programme, Athens Comics Library aims to connect the health and creative sector through a collaborative approach in order to design a system that is more collaborative, open, innovative and people-centred and remove stigma around mental health particularly in rural and vulnerable communities.
In this respect, they aim to define a social prescribing program for people who have long-term health problems, complex social needs, and mental health challenges.
Objectives of the programme:
1) Reach and support the whole community regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status or educational attainment.
2) Create a culture of caring.
3) Provide a space where groups can come together and enjoy activities that are co-designed with local people, to meet their needs.
4) Offer local health support services available through ‘community hubs’, bringing together different partners’ offerings in a seamless way.
5) Create safe, welcoming and accessible physical and virtual environments that are freely open to all and that can encourage participation, creativity and mutual learning and support.
6) Help local government and its partners deliver their strategic objectives, whether linked to community cohesion, health and wellbeing, economic growth, promoting independent living or increasing life chances.
Athens Comics Library will be working in partnership with E.P.A.P.S.Y. an organisation in Greece that actively works to offer an alternative model of psychosocial care to the community based on the principles of Social Psychiatry and Psychosocial Rehabilitation.
For the beginning of Libraries on Prescription, four libraries across Greece have been selected:
1/ Patras University Library. Target group: young people, students.
2/ Psychiko Municipality, Athens, Public Library of Organisation for Solidarity, Culture and Sports. Target group: people with learning difficulties.
3/ Rapsani Municipality, Larissa, Public Library. Target group: elderly women in rural Greece.
4/ Ayia, Crete, Prison Library. Target group: prisoners.
To begin with, Athens Comics Library will pilot the programme working together with Refugee Week Greece on designing and delivering a programme of "Stand Up Comedy" and storytelling for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers facing mental health challenges.
This Programme was designed around the following 6 reinvention indicators:
1) Reduction in level of anxiety and isolation
2) Increased alternatives to clinical settings
3) Improved access to non-formal education
4) Repurpose spaces for well-being
5) Improved social connection
6) Increased cognitive stimulation
Through the Programme, organisers will initiate the creation of a ‘Libraries of Sanctuary’ network - a network of librarians, library staff, community groups and book lovers to invest on the “collective wellness” and “collective healing” with communities who experience collective traumas, such as natural disasters, deprivation, displacement.
Together with E.P.A.P.S.Y. Athens Comics Library will closely monitor the wellbeing and mental health of all participants including the staff team.