July 21st, 2024

To Your Health: Creative prescriptions for better health

By Gillian Slade on July 24, 2017.

If you have ever participated in something creative you probably know the sense of relaxation and calm that can be derived.

In the U.K. there has even been talk about physicians prescribing creativity pursuits such as attending an art class or a poetry workshop because of the positive benefits in boosting health and a sense of well-being. The health authority there has calculated a cost benefit ratio. Patients make fewer visits to doctors and fewer admissions to hospitals. In fact the number of doctor visits dropped by 37 per cent and hospital admissions dropped 27 per cent.

I can hear someone say that only works if you are a creative person, but that is not accurate. We all have some creativity in us and while some are more gifted than others it is appropriate instruction that can make the difference.

Perhaps you recall sitting at a school desk trying to write a poem and feeling thoroughly dejected, even declaring there is so no way you could ever do such as thing. An understanding workshop facilitator can teach skills that just may awaken in you something you never knew was there.

The U.K. group that studied this said a creative pursuit can help overcome physical and psychological pain and contribute to recovery.

I remember talking to someone who had suffered extreme anxiety to the point of not having the courage to venture out of her bedroom let alone the house. She participated in an art workshop locally. The environment, even with other people attending, felt safe and she slowly improved and had reached the point of feeling confident enough to even walk into a coffee shop on her own.

“If social prescribing were a drug, people would be outraged that doctors weren’t prescribing it,” one of the people researching this in the U.K. is reported to have said.

One of the drawbacks for people who could really benefit from something like this is the financial cost. If you have been dealing with a traumatic injury or have chronic pain you have often lost your job and it is a struggle to keep it together on a disability pension.

While our health care system has some creative classes available it would be amazing if we as a society broadened this. Music lessons, voice lessons, pottery classes, weaving — what if they were financially accessible to everyone who needed them?

Perhaps in the not too distant future we will see physicians prescribing creativity classes. Instead of going to the pharmacy to fill a prescription you will be able to register for a workshop on the advice of your doctor.

Here’s to creativity and the restoration it can bring and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her by email on call 403-528-8635.

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