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Sick Britons to be prescribed concerts and playlists

Music and arts therapy could form the cornerstone of a 'social prescribing' revolution for those with mental disorders, under plans unveiled by the UK health minister

By Jon Chapple on 07 Nov 2018

UK health secretary Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care

image © Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament

Patients with mental health conditions and degenerative diseases should be prescribed concerts, playlists and music classes in addition to medication, according to Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock MP.

In a speech to King’s Fund, a UK health think tank, yesterday, Hancock suggested trips to concert venues, as well as ‘personal playlists’ of music, could be prescribed to help patients and their families cope with the symptoms of brain diseases such as dementia – a practice dubbed “social prescribing”.

“We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac, when what we should be doing is more prevention and perspiration,” he said, reports the Times. “Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people. It’s about moving from patient-centred care to person-centred care.”

Hancock – formerly the UK’s culture minister, where he worked towards securing a ban on ticket bots, as well as the abolition of the controversial ‘form 696’ – said a National Academy for Social Prescribing will also be established to champion the plans.

“Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people”

“We should value the arts because they’re essential to our health and wellbeing,” added. “And that’s not me as a former culture secretary, who’s spent a lot of time around luvvies, saying it. It’s scientifically proven. Access to the arts improves people’s mental and physical health. It makes us happier and healthier.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental-health charity Mind, welcomes the proposals but says they need to be matched with the proper funding, according to the BBC.

“Local services have been subject to substantial cuts over the past decade,” he comments. “This prevention strategy must be matched with long-term investment, if we want to see it become a reality and making a real difference to people’s everyday lives.”


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