Flourish With Fran June 22: Social Prescribing

A holistic approach to prescribed health

Gardening isn’t just good for making your own food.

In May, during the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week (9th May- 15th May), the theme this year was Loneliness.

Loneliness is a pressing public health issue and associated with early death. Dealing with loneliness can feel very isolating. Through finding connection with ourselves, others, and nature. We can help ourselves feel grounded and able to tackle the challenges that life may bring.  Therefore, social prescribing is an important tool to support a holistic approach to health as it supports a sense of belonging.

Social prescribing provides a routine, with the element of human touch that many of us may not experience in our day-to-day lives. Social prescribing is a tool that is part of a personalised care programme that enables GPs, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to refer people to a range of local services from volunteering, arts and crafts, gardening, cooking, and sport groups. The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) group has been running a variety of social prescribing projects for many years.

Emerging evidence shows that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people, including improving their quality of life and overall emotional wellbeing. Through participating in the range of activities and community services, people can connect with their local neighbourhood and meet new likeminded people. This can include learning a new skill by joining a class. For example, I have recently finished a 6-week hand building pottery class as I was inspired by The Great Pottery Throwdown and wanted to give this a go! I found a local group in my area, and it has been fun to learn a new skill and be able to have some products to show for this.  It has made me feel more connected with my neighbourhood and meet new people, whilst challenging my artistic abilities! Also, I hope to join a local gardening group within my medical centre as part of a social prescribing tool.  Social prescribing can be a vital tool in tackling loneliness as people can find enjoyable activities that keep them busy and stimulate their minds, helping to tackle negative thoughts. An activity such as gardening or a sport group can provide physical activity in a supportive environment which is beneficial for mental and physical health.

Do something artistic to make you feel more engaged with life.
Fran Vuolo

Anyone can access social prescribing and it has been found to have benefits for those with mild or long-term mental illness, people with complex needs, and people who have multiple long-term conditions.  Social prescribing can reduce pressure on the NHS as individuals are directed to more appropriate services and groups. Through utilising social prescribing, we can invest in our local communities which in turn empowers people to have a greater say in their lives and own health, creates a cohesive and connected community and reduces health inequalities.

I have previously spoken about the benefits of nature connection, nutrition, physical activity, and arts on our mental and physical wellbeing. These tools do apply as an element of social prescribing. All these elements combined are essential tools in our toolbox in supporting our health.

To keep up to date with what´s going on in town, feel free to join our Facebook group by clicking here.

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