Not much in the way of positive news has been reported regarding our National Health Service in the last few years. Buckling under social, economic and political pressures, its future is, without a doubt, uncertain. But that’s a whole separate topic that we’re not delving into today. What we wanted to shed light on is something much more positive and something wellness advocates are rejoicing over. Enter Social Prescribing – an exciting new initiative set up by the NHS that is now enabling doctors to formally prescribe lifestyle modifications instead of, or alongside, traditional medicine to help treat their patient’s health problems.  

This initiative comes at a time where Doctors are slowly understanding the crucial link between physical and mental wellbeing and our general health. It’s recognising that whilst modern medicine plays an important role in treating many conditions and, most importantly, saving lives, it could be used as a second (or even a third or fourth) resort with adjustments to lifestyle habits becoming the first port of call.

As part of this NHS-funded initiative, more and more activities and groups are becoming available for patients to get involved in to help reverse disease processes or even prevent them altogether. Aside from the positive health benefits prescribing lifestyle changes can have on someone’s overall wellbeing, introducing patients to new communities could also drastically improve their mental health. Doctors and medical professionals now understand that, in today’s society, people are more socially isolated than ever before and loneliness can impact greatly on people’s motivation to exercise, engage with like-minded people and thrive in their working environments. Social Prescribing aims to spark new friendships, create healthy communities and provide people with a sense of belonging. 

Some examples of Social Prescribing that are designed to improve physical and mental wellbeing are…

  • Exercise classes (e.g yoga, pilates)
  • Meditation 
  • Singing groups
  • Art classes
  • Expressive writing
  • Journalling classes
  • Cookery classes
  • Gardening

The take-home is that while conventional medicine serves an important purpose in treating illness, when used in isolation to treat people’s poor health it can be easy to overlook the root cause of the issue and plaster over the cracks. Social Prescribing looks at the bigger picture to try to treat, cure and prevent health issues and put the control back into the patient’s hands. Something that can be very empowering and therapeutic indeed.

For more information, visit www.nhs.uk