HEALTH Secretary, Matt Hancock, has advised doctors should prescribe dancing and music classes to help people deal with mental health problems.
Mr Hancock has criticised the reliance of treating long-term illnesses with drugs, and said culture therapy could save the NHS money.
The NHS prevention plan aims to use ‘social prescriptions’ to boost mental health and increase life expectancy
‘Social prescription reduces over-prescription of drugs,’ said Mr Hancock.
‘It can lead to the same or better outcomes for patients without popping pills. And it saves the NHS money because many of these social cures are free,’ he added.
The health secretary called the arts an ‘indispensable tool’ for doctors to help patient recovery, and said culture could be considered in place of drugs to treat long-term medical conditions such as dementia.
Under the new plans, trips to libraries and concert halls - as well as 'personal playlists' of music - could be prescribed to help patients and their families cope with the symptoms of mental illness.
The plans follow Mr Hancock's announcement of his long-term vision for the NHS to tackle mental illness.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said social prescribing ‘is not a new phenomenon, but that encouraging patients to take up new hobbies could have a positive impact.
‘Preventing people from becoming ill by emphasising the importance of preventative measures is a step in the right direction, but we need the right resources if we're going to be able to deliver far more of this kind of care,’ she said.