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Prescribing Art as Medical Treatment

We say “Prevention is better than cure” (author - Desiderius Erasmus) – a wise saying that is widely and commonly familiar to lots of us. Who wouldn’t agree to this? If one is able to acquire a prescription for a fore-seen problem, then why not go for it?

Social prescribing methods and techniques are ways that could save a society from future health burdens. According to British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, “Social prescribing could help prevent or reduce the number of medicalized citizens”. American author Rob Wittman once said “Individuals will achieve healthier lifestyles when prevention and wellness programs are accessible and available in their workplace, through their health provider, and in their communities.” The beginning of November this year had the British Health Secretary Matt Hancock propose a health scheme, to achieve a society with a reduction in certain health problems through social prescribing. This initiative could soon have medical practitioners prescribe Therapeutic Art - treatment methods basing on individual hobbies and talents.

(Art Therapy – is a creative method of expression used as a therapeutic technique). It focuses on the creative art – making process as well as therapy through an exchange of patient and therapist interaction. Art is very wide. It has different forms, ranging from Performing Art such as dancing and singing, Visual Art such as painting and drawing and much more.

Therapeutic Art is undeniably one of the best ways to offer health support and cure. With music for instance, many of us use it for different purposes. It could be for entertainment and pleasure or for healing oneself. Music with its so many benefits can be used in the health sector as a means of easing pain and offering comfort. Patients who listen to relaxing and soothing music feel less worried and always appear be less restless while undergoing medical check – ups or treatment. Similar to examples of visual art such as painting, patients get to share their experiences by illuminating on them during art therapy sessions. Most often, the focus is put in the process rather than creating a finished art product.

Following Hancock’s proposed initiative, the British medical treatments for patients with ailments such as lung conditions and mental health conditions could soon be taking a different course, with some of the therapeutic art methods involving dancing classes as well as singing lessons.

In Canada, a similar initiative by the government was launched earlier this month. The campaign is said to have every member of the Montreal-based Medical Association, hand out 50 prescriptions that allow patients and a limited number of friends, family as well as caregivers tour the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts free of charge. The admission charges usually are $23 Canadian dollars. The initiative is said to be helping on research, and so far suggesting the museum visits help in offering quick mood boost to its visitors.

As much as both countries are aiming at achieving a more similar goal in the health sector, the British campaign appears to be offering more than just a simple museum trip. Its campaign will be offering a number of social activities such as cooking classes and gardening, apart from the dancing and singing classes.

And as much as the proposal appears to be successful and beneficial if accepted and put to work, it has its challenges and short-comings as well. Some of the noted ones are:

  • The fact it does not fully address a funding method.

  • The campaign will not be able to reach everyone in the society.

And with the main intention for having Social Prescription as a complement rather than a means to replace the traditional forms of treatment, we could all try to embrace in our societies. If we have different methods of healing ourselves and our loved ones, we should be able to strive to achieve them. It is said that man can have wealth and riches but what more wealth can he have if not good health.

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