UK Doctors May Soon Prescribe ‘Therapeutic Art’

Around 55 percent of the US population currently takes some form of prescription medication—pills that often come with a host of unpleasant side effects. In fact, over a third of US adults take prescription medication for depression symptoms alone. We live in a culture overly reliant on pharmaceuticals, but the UK is trying to change that.

In an effort to reduce over-medicalizing, the UK medical system is looking to adopt a more preventative tactic. Rather than encouraging patients to pop more pills, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock wants to foster a culture that looks to therapeutic art to support healing.

What is therapeutic art?

These therapeutic prescriptions could include taking dance lessons, trying to throw some pottery, or even just listening to a specific type of joy-inducing music. This ‘social prescribing’ of therapeutic art is an unconventional way to reduce our reliance on pharmaceuticals for relief.

And it seems like it actually works.

Close up of female hands working on potters wheel

The reason for the move towards social prescribing is the compelling research behind it. In a study which paired the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with stroke survivors and encouraged patients to play, conduct and perform, an incredible 90 percent of patients reported health improvements, both mentally and physically.

In other research, dance classes have been shown to improve concentration and communication in those displaying early signs of psychosis. Even hospitals in Gloucestershire, England have taken to encouraging patients with lung conditions to start singing to support strength and outlook. Art is healing.

Social Prescribing is Catching On

Social prescribing is just one small facet of the UK’s larger preventative health initiative, proving that super-pills aren’t necessarily the future of healthcare.

In fact, Canada is also toying with the idea of prescribing therapeutic art. For the month of November, doctors belonging to a specific medical association in Quebec were given the option of prescribing 50 patients free visits to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This comes as a result of research that showed that visits to the museum raised serotonin levels and boosted moods in all types of patients.

No time for the rest

But the UK is going all in. They plan to implement these social prescriptions, alongside conventional treatments, by 2023. Patients with any range of conditions will hopefully begin to have better and more affordable access to creative opportunities, especially those in lower socioeconomic classes who are less likely to be able to indulge in creative and cultural experiences. And hopefully we will see an impressive shift towards greater health and happiness nationwide as a result.

While there is no hint that the US will adopt this forward-thinking, preventative outlook anytime soon, Americans can reap the benefits by enriching their lives with art. Find a hobby that interests you—singing, pottery, dancing, music, writing, jewelry-making, woodworking, painting, anything creative—and just do it!

Art is essential to our wellbeing. It makes us happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. Stop ignoring your inner artist.

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Images via Getty


Jetana A
Jetana A4 days ago

I am a believer! I use art in my creativity based transformational life coaching. Reclaiming my birthright of creativity and freeing my Inner Artist helped me become a "happy crone" in spite of diagnoses of CFS/FM, MCS, & bipolar disorderliness.

Latoya B
Latoya Brookins4 days ago

It makes me think of Jenna & Julien.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara7 days ago

caring for plants would be good

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara7 days ago


Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara7 days ago


Mark T
Mark T7 days ago


Janis K
Janis K7 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Shirley P
Shirley P7 days ago


Martin H
Martin H7 days ago

if this works, great.

Lisa M
Lisa M7 days ago