Depressed teenagers get surf, dance and skate lessons at the NHS

Hundreds of children with mental health problems are prescribed surfing, roller skating and gardening classes by their GP to improve their well-being.

As part of a study, NHS mental health services will fund the activities, which also include sports clubs, music classes and youth clubs, for 600 11-18 year olds in 10 parts of England who are queuing for care.

If the social prescription system is successful in reducing anxiety, depression and loneliness, it could be rolled out nationwide to offer some breathing space for those stuck on the backlog.

dr Daisy Fancourt, a psychobiologist at University College London who is conducting the study with the NHS, said three out of four young people see their mental health deteriorating while awaiting treatment.

“Social prescribing has the potential to support young people while they wait by providing access to a range of creative and social activities that could boost their confidence, self-esteem and social support networks,” she said.

However, according to a study published last week, there is “little evidence” that the approach actually improves physical health or reduces reliance on family doctor services.

As part of a study, NHS mental health services will fund the activities, which also include sports clubs, music classes and youth clubs, for 600 11-18 year olds in 10 parts of England who are queuing for care

As part of a study, NHS mental health services will fund the activities, which also include sports clubs, music classes and youth clubs, for 600 11-18 year olds in 10 parts of England who are queuing for care

As part of a study, NHS mental health services will fund the activities, which also include sports clubs, music classes and youth clubs, for 600 11-18 year olds in 10 parts of England who are queuing for care

Is ‘social prescribing’ a waste of NHS money? Experts say there’s “little evidence” that garden clubs, art classes and walking groups improve health

Gardening clubs, art classes, and walking groups have all been hailed as healthy alternatives to popping pills.

However, according to a scientific study, there is “little evidence” that social prescribing actually improves people’s health.

The researchers found no consistent evidence that the radical treatment approach – now widespread across the NHS – actually works.

The analysis, which included 6,500 people, found little evidence that such activities improved social support, physical functioning or reduced use of primary health care services such as family doctors.

There is only “limited evidence” that the programs improve people’s perceptions of personal health or the quality of care received, researchers from the University of Dublin said.

They conclude that far more robust research is needed before policymakers continue to push it as a treatment.

It is believed that one in six young people in England suffers from a mental illness.

In parts of the country, however, they face waiting times of up to three years for NHS care – such as appointments with psychologists, therapists and social workers.

dr Fancourt told The Guardian: “Young people’s mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS.

“Currently, many young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services face long waits, during which more than three-quarters experience deterioration in their mental health.”

Social prescribing has “tremendous potential” and could “help address the determinants of mental illness, reduce the stigma and shame sometimes associated with mental health problems, and give young people choice and control over their care.”

Ten NHS mental health trusts will offer a ‘Buddy’ worker who will reach out to young people awaiting treatment and give them a range of courses to choose from.

dr Fancourt and her team will monitor how many young people take part in the courses and how practical and costly the program is.

Social prescription was previously offered between 2018 and 2020 as part of a state-funded scheme for young people in Luton, Sheffield and Brighton and Hove.

Participants reported an increase in their personal and mental well-being, particularly in those who were feeling worst at the start of the study, and a reduction in loneliness.

The study reduced the stigma surrounding mental health and “filled a gap in mental health care” by providing near-instant access to emotional support, they added.

However, some had difficulty getting to and from classes and some were expensive.

The UCL study will be the largest social prescribing study in children to date.

General practitioners are increasingly relying on non-traditional “treatment” as an alternative to medication to treat people with mental health problems.

Professor Martin Marshall, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has previously told how he prescribed cooking classes to a patient so he could prepare healthier meals instead of relying on fast food.

However, a University of Dublin study published last week in the journal BMJ Open found that there is no consistent evidence that social prescribing works.

They looked at eight studies involving around 6,500 people who participated in social prescribing activities for between one month and two years.

They found little evidence that the activities improved social support, physical functioning, or reduced use of primary health care services such as family doctors.

And there was only “limited evidence” that the programs improved people’s perceptions of their health or the quality of care they received.

Far more robust research is needed before policymakers continue to push it as a treatment, they concluded.

Social prescription advocates argue the approach can save the NHS money by benefiting people’s health – reducing doctor visits and dependency on the health service.

However, the researchers cautioned that “there is potential for harm when Link employees are bombarded with inappropriate recommendations and have little idea how to respond.”

Social prescribing is often measured by patient reports of their “well-being” rather than “hard” metrics of clinical health — such as fewer appointment requests and fewer hospital stays, they added.

But NHS bosses say that giving people more control over their health will empower patients to “look after their own physical and mental health and reduce demand for health and social services”.

Social prescribing became official public health policy in October 2019 when the UK National Academy of Social Prescribing was launched by then Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

At the time, he said it could “help us fight the over-medication of people” and save money.

The plan called for 1,000 social prescribing staff to be in place by March 2021 and at least 900,000 patients to be referred to the system by March 2024.

People with one or more long-term illnesses, who have mental health issues, are lonely or isolated, and have complex social needs are the main targets of the program.

It provides them with prescribed activities such as volunteering, group learning and counseling on healthy eating.

They may also be referred to local charities and support networks, employment services, social services, health services, and other emergency services.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/depressed-teenagers-to-get-surfing-dancing-and-skating-lessons-on-the-nhs/ Depressed teenagers get surf, dance and skate lessons at the NHS

Brian Ashcraft

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