UK Doctors Will Prescribe Arts & Culture to Help Improve Patients’ Physical and Mental Health

Social Prescribing NHS Art Prescription

Art museum (Photo: Ysbrand Cosijn via Shutterstock)

The definition of “doctor's orders” is about to be rewritten in the United Kingdom. Thanks to a new government scheme, general practitioners across the country will advise patients to absorb fewer pills and syrups and more art and culture.

Called “social prescribing,” this approach aims to highlight and illustrate the benefits of art-inspired, therapeutic treatment for a range of ailments and afflictions. “It’s scientifically proven,” health secretary Matt Hancock says, “[that] access to the arts and social activities improves people’s mental and physical health. It makes us happier and healthier.”

So, what “social prescriptions” can patients expect? In addition to hands-on activities like art classes and music lessons, this proposal will send people to museums, theaters, and other cultural hubs that foster “personal creativity.” In any case, the prescription is personalized, so the dosage and destination depends entirely on the individual's interests.

This ambitious approach is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's “Loneliness Strategy.” According to British Prime Minister Theresa May, this initiative calls for cultural and community-based activities that will holistically combat “one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.”

While the social prescribing plan is still in its early stages, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport predicts it will be on its feet by 2023.

Under the new “social prescribing” scheme, doctors in the United Kingdom are encouraged to prescribe dosages of art and culture to patients. These therapeutic “treatments” include taking an art class…

Social Prescribing NHS Art Prescription

Pottery class (Photo: Helen Sushitskaya via Shutterstock)

Music lessons…

Social Prescribing NHS Art Prescription

Music lesson (Photo: franz12 via Shutterstock)

And even attending performances!

Social Prescribing NHS Art Prescription

Theatre (Photo: aerogondo2 via Shutterstock)

h/t: [Open Culture]

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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