Social prescribing boosts mental and physical health - column by Chris Higgins, director of operations at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Social prescribing is not a new fad or trend in health care. If anything, it’s been around in various forms for many years.

Social prescribing is a key part of the future of healthcare. (Picture: Adobe Stock)
Social prescribing is a key part of the future of healthcare. (Picture: Adobe Stock)

A hundred years ago, many Victorian patients were prescribed ‘a change of air’ to help with ailments such as melancholy or to revitalise themselves.

More recently clinicians have given out ‘green health/nature prescriptions’ encouraging people to connect to nature as part of their treatment.

The core purpose of social prescribing is to think about the person and what matters to them and not just concentrate on the illness.

Often, there are many other issues that the person has to contend with as well – money worries, accommodation, family concerns for example.

Social prescribing is about empowering people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, by building resilience, knowledge and confidence.

All it needs is someone whose medical needs (both physical and mental wellbeing) are managed or stable, and to be actively willing to engage in self-care.

Social prescribing can then find the right community support for them as individuals, that best meets their needs.

In Lincolnshire, we are helping people to become more involved in community life thanks to a range of social prescribing initiatives. Providing guidance, a listening ear and signposting for anyone who needs extra help in changing their lifestyle, staying well or to be better connected to their community.

It isn’t just about getting specialist medical help that will make us feel better, there are many other things we can do for ourselves that will complement.

Lincolnshire’s Social Prescribing Link Workers provide people with the right support, at the right time for their condition before it worsens or becomes too much to bear.

They have strong links to voluntary sector and community groups through established networks and will also signpost to public and statutory agencies.

Lincolnshire now hosts a team of 49 link workers across the county, employed to offer one-to-one support and advice, connecting people with their communities, reducing social isolation and overall improving the health and wellbeing of Lincolnshire citizens.

Social prescribing is a key part of the future of healthcare, as it gives people a proactive choice in managing their own wellbeing.

To find out more about your social prescribing service, speak to your local GP surgery or visit www.lpft.nhs.uk/community-support-in-Lincolnshire to find contact details.