Practice managers in Sunderland are being alerted to a new way that GPs can care for patients without using so many drugs.
The city council has unveiled an innovative scheme to marry alternative therapies with conventional medications.
It hopes to improve mental health care by offering people self-help books on prescription from local libraries.
The scheme is available for those with mild to moderate mental health problems including stress, anxiety, phobias, and self-esteem issues.
It also assists those people who are battling to deal with substance misuse.
The city council's community health officer Laura Warnock said: "People with mild to moderate mental health problems visiting their GP will be able to find out more about this confidential service and be recommended a book.
"They will then be given a prescription which they can take to their local library and collect the title."
The project takes data security seriously, and the council has moved to reassure people that library staff will not divulge information about the books being borrowed.
The books are also useful for families, friends and carers of those coping with illnesses in helping them to understand their problems, and to support their recovery.