Woman in a garden Ecotherapy

Social Prescribing of Nature for improved health and wellness is now being embraced by forward- thinking Public Health Authorities such as the NHS in the U.K.

You may have heard the term ‘Social Prescribing’, but what could it mean for your health and wellbeing?

Well, in a nutshell, it is the prescription by Doctors and health care specialists of activities and therapies in addition to, or as a substitute for the prescription of drugs or medical intervention. The core aim of Social Prescribing is to focus on the holistic health and wellbeing of a person. It is based on the premise that we all have unique talents to contribute to society and that contributing in itself benefits our overall health and wellbeing.

What can Social Prescribing be used for?

Social prescribing is being pioneered globally by the NHS in Britain. According to research from the National Academy of Social Prescribing in the U.K,  at least 20% of patients who visit their General Practitioner do so with a problem that is ‘non-medical’, such as loneliness, debt, or housing. A further 20% of people visiting a G.P are living with a condition or symptoms where medicine doesn’t have an evident role.

In Ontario, Canada where Social Prescribing is also being piloted, Social Prescriptions can be given to address a range of issues such as feeling lonely, feeling disconnected or having no one to rely on. If left unchecked, these states of being can lead to poor long term mental and physical health outcomes.

How does social Prescribing work ?

Social Prescribing in healthcare is still relatively new, but NHS England has already established a network of ‘Link Workers’ who work within Primary Care Networks to link patients with therapy and activity providers. As a patient, you can be put in contact with a Link worker via your G.P or community healthcare centre. In other countries which are piloting Social Prescribing, the patient referral model has yet to be finalized.

The role of Complementary Medicine in Social Prescribing

Complementary therapies such as Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Nutrition and my therapeutic specialism, Ecotherapy have all been shown to have hugely beneficial effects on patient Wellbeing and recovery. In 2016, The Kingsfund in the U.K published its report on the impact on our health of Gardening and Gardens and evidenced a wide range of short and long term benefits. These included increased physical activity, communication, co-operation & teamwork, social interaction, stress reduction and a sense of purpose and belonging. Gardening and Green space therapy is likely to play a central role in social prescribing and Ecotherapists and Green Health providers will be in high demand.

If you’re curious about Ecotherapy for social prescribing, then contact me today to find out more. I also have a range of Ecotherapy resources here on my website including my Blog on Forest Bathing  and access to my Urban Gardening series on my You Tube Channel.

 

*This article was first published on 15/07/2020 on the Complementary Medical Association Website