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Charity teams up with self care brand to turn the page on mental health

A mental health charity and an online self care brand have teamed up to encourage people to read to better manage their mental wellbeing.

The collaboration between sidekick, a charity that provides mental health support and resources both online and via an app, and Botany&Books, a business that creates bespoke candle and book gift sets, aims to spread the word about the power of reading for improving mental health, in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Reading has been proven to significantly benefit mental health, from reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, to improving brain connectivity and potentially protecting against cognitive decline.

One study found that just 6 minutes of reading a day could reduce stress levels by almost 70%.

The collaboration aims to inspire the same benefits for people who may be struggling with their mental health by providing the escapism of books.

Image of sidekick app on smartphone
The sidekick app includes various exercises, resources and tools to promote good mental health

For Mental Health Awareness Week, the collaboration will be releasing a book and candle set that includes Matt Haig's 'Reasons To Stay Alive' – a best-selling memoir of Haig's personal struggles with anxiety and depression combined with various coping mechanisms and tips for people going through a similar situation.

“If you’re in a bad mental health space, it’s nice to pick up a book, read a couple of pages and take some time for yourself," says Heather Niblett, digital marketing and content at sidekick. "This book is perfect because it’s helpful and easy to read. Often mental health books are quite heavy, but this is broken down into short chapters, lists and poetry.”

A copy of Haig's book will be coupled with a candle crafted by independent self-care brand Botany&Books, which itself was founded in 2019 as a means of dealing with the effects of anxiety.

"I started my business after a mental crisis of my own where I had been suffering from acute anxiety," says Thalia, founder of Botany&Books. "Through my recovery, I had needed to find ways of resting and occupying my mind, and reading was a big part of that.

"I also started making candles, a mindful activity that allowed me to focus on the present and create something that symbolises hope."

Thalia's work evolved into candle and book gift sets, combining second-hand books with candles inspired by the locations of the books themselves.

The candle included in the set for Mental Health Awareness Week is named 'Being' and is designed to inspire awareness of the current moment and increase the reader's focus.

"Escapism allows us to get out of our heads and away from our worries and be transported into new worlds, which is a powerful restorative process for our bodies, and often the only thing that distracts us from our mental health," adds Thalia.

"By activating the part of the brain that forms memories and emotions, the scented candles combined with reading a book create a more holistic experience."

Also included in the set will be a hand-painted bookmark crafted by Canvas by LP –an independent business run by artist Laura Pajuodyte who explores mental health through abstract art and raises money for charity while doing so.

The candle and book gift sets can be pre-ordered here, with 40% of profits going to sidekick to continue their growth as a mental health charity.


Written by Marco Ricci

Editor and contributor for Talking Mental Health


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