In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is prescribing outdoors activities such as surfing, rollerskating and gardening to help young people improve their mental wellbeing. As mental health struggles rise, alternative treatments may be one way to get people the help they need.
NHS mental health trusts in the UK will offer ‘social prescribing’ therapies and treatments to 600 young people across England who are currently on waiting lists to receive mental health support and treatment. The trial is being run by professionals from University College London, and if all goes according to plan the NHS could make such treatments accessible and available to young people across the country.
Mental health conditions have become more commonplace in society, and of those aged six to 16 in England one in six had a probable mental health condition in 2021 up from one in nine in 2017. But as the number of people who have a mental health condition rises so too does the wait time for accessing help and support, with data from NHS England showing that the number of people waiting for community mental health care has risen to 1.2 million.
‘Social prescribing’ therapies have the potential to support people struggling with their mental health while they wait for government support and professional intervention. And with wait times for accessing mental health care rising, creative and social activities that can boost self-esteem and foster greater peer-to-peer and community support networks maybe be one solution in helping people battle the ongoing mental health crisis.