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British doctors prescribe art & music
By Michelle Robertson
Doctors in Britain are being urged to use more creative ways to improve their patients’ health by prescribing art, music and dance in place of pills. The focus is on preventing ailments before they get out of hand by promoting therapeutic art or hobby-based treatments. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says, “We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac, when what we should be promoting is more prevention.” This new form of treatment is called “social prescribing”, and it is part of a project to ensure that doctors across the country learn how to guide patients to an array of hobbies, sports and arts groups.
There have already been some encouraging results. In one hospital, stroke survivors were encouraged to play instruments, and 90% of the participants showed significant improvement in their physical and mental health. In another clinic dance lessons were the answer for boosting concentration and communication skills in patients who displayed early signs of psychosis. According to Secretary Hancock: “We should value the arts because they’re essential to our health and wellbeing. Access to the arts improves people’s mental and physical health. It makes us happier and healthier.”