22 Jan 2015

Introducing Biblio

By Jessica

In this guest blog co-founder Sabina Dosani introduces Biblio, one of the ten startups in our BGV W15 accelerator programme.

What’s the problem Biblio addresses?

Many children struggle and need specialist support. Not just children who come from a background of abuse and neglect, but also children experiencing change, trauma or grief. We set up Biblio to help these children and their families make sense of what is happening, give them access to specific information and give them an opportunity to enjoy being a child.

75% of people with diagnosable mental illness, approximately half a million children, receive no treatment. Most mental illnesses begin in childhood or during adolescence so early intervention makes medical and economic sense. Left untreated, childhood mental illnesses can require expensive inpatient facilities, assistance from national specialist teams or costly multidisciplinary intervention.

What is Biblio?

Biblio sends personally curated books, selected by a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist to children who are struggling and to adults who are helping them. We also organise meet ups for Biblio users. Biblio books provide education about what’s going on as well as giving families insight, inspiration and hope through fiction, poetry and non-fiction.

How does it work?

We invite people to tell us a bit about themselves and then send them a book pack that is unique to them. We envisage people developing long-term relationships with Biblio. For example, the family of a child newly diagnosed with high functioning autism could receive a book parcel at diagnosis, including books for parents, siblings and the diagnosed child. This family would return for further book prescriptions to help with bullying in primary school, at secondary school transition and again to help with co-morbid depression during adolescence. Biblio supplies books for the whole family, recognising distress doesn’t just happen to individuals but affects everyone in the family. Our service offers a means to increase access where none exists, and a way of supporting existing mental health professional care/relationships.

Where did the idea come from?

Bibliotherapy is not a new concept: ancient Greeks considered libraries to be as much to soothe the soul as to stimulate. However, the existing evidence-base is still emerging. Bibliotherapy helps people with depression feel better and this effect has been shown to be long lasting. Small trials suggest it may be effective in the treatment of conditions including obsessive–compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa and insomnia. We intend to evaluate what we are doing and develop the evidence base further.

A bit about us

Dr Sabina Dosani trained at the Maudsley Hospital, London and worked as a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist in the UK and in New Zealand in a variety of settings, from tiny rural clinics to charities to teaching hospitals. Sabina also worked as an editor at the BMJ, has written for most UK broadsheets, (including as a freelance literary critic for the Sunday Express), published six books, and was regularly on Breakfast TV in NZ, talking about young people’s mental health. She has two young daughters.

Mehmood Khan has over 15 years experience of corporate IT delivery and project management first with PwC Consulting and IBM and later on directly for large corporations. He is also an experienced financial modeller. He has an interest in mental health and innovation for good and cofounded a preschool children’s book company after the birth of his son.

How we met

We met at Google Campus for Mums, a pre-incubator programme for parent-entrepreneurs. One day we had lunch in the park and chatted on a park bench about how good it would be to send personalised book prescriptions to children.

If you’d like to find out more or get involved in trialling Biblio please get in touch: sabina.dosani@biblio.life