Recognising that people’s health and wellbeing are determined mostly by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.
Schemes delivering social prescribing can involve a range of activities that are provided by voluntary, community sector and private organisations, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery. Healthy eating advice and a range of sports and activities are just a few examples.
Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs and many scheme focus on improving mental health and physical wellbeing. Many of those benefiting from social prescribing include people with mild or long term mental health problems, people who are socially isolated and those with multiple long term conditions.
There is a growing body of evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Multiple studies have shown marked improvements in quality of life and emotional wellbeing, mental and general wellbeing and levels of depression and anxiety.
Physical activity has been described as a the wonder drug and a miracle cure due to the many illnesses it can prevent and help treat, with the integration of social prescribing it allows for more people to be supported in engaging in being more active within the community and reaping the benefits within their physical and mental health and the additional social benefits.
People who are regularly engaging with healthcare professionals and Social prescribers, those with, or at risk of, developing health conditions are far more likely to be inactive, it is important that healthcare professionals have the knowledge, skills and confidence to have physical activity conversations with patients in order to help them engage with opportunities to be more active whilst being supported by a social prescriber.