Social Prescribing is a More Holistic Approach to Wellness
Holistic approaches in healthcare are part of a concept that isn’t so much brand new, but is becoming more and more mainstream. For years the popularity of practices such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation have found their way into being incorporated with science-based medicine for treating a variety of ailments. While research continues to build up supporting holistic healing methods in promoting well-being, a new first-of-its-kind study has determined that the concept of “social prescribing” by trained “link workers” can effectively improve health and well-being of patients with a number of long term conditions.
In April of 2015, a dedicated group of link workers from Newcastle University in the UK launched an organization called Ways to Wellness. Since it’s inception, Ways to Wellness has providing social prescribing support for over 2,400 people. Now the program has a detailed review that gives glowing vindication to the organizations efforts. After reviewing their patients, researchers concluded:
“The intervention engendered feelings of control and self-confidence, reduced social isolation and had a positive impact on health-related behaviors including weight loss, healthier eating, and increased physical activity. Management of long-term conditions and mental health in the face of multi-morbidity improved and participants reported greater resilience and more effective problem-solving strategies.”
So what more should we know about social prescribing? At the moment it seems to contribute to promoting health in people suffer from physical conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
Many of these circumstances also aggravate the symptoms of psychological conditions, such as:
The recently published findings seek to popularize a means of treatment that aligns modern medicine with a healthier social life in order to benefit overall wellness in a more holistic approach.
What is Social Prescribing?
The name kind of says it all. We are familiar with the idea of doctors prescribing treatment, such as pills or procedures. To be social relates to activity interacting with society, a community or a group collective.
To put it simply, social prescribing is when a primary care patient is partnered with what is considered a “link worker”. These individuals then work with the individual to design a customized combination of community-activities. These social opportunities are picked to fit the patients specific profile, including the individual’s:
- Personal interests
- Special needs
- Pharmaceutical prescriptions
In order to be most effective, social prescribing addresses four key aspects of treatment:
- Physical health
- Psychological well-being
- Perceived social isolation
- Financial stress
By coordinating the social prescribing with any traditional medication the individual may need to treat their condition, the link worker helps to find ideal occasions for actively engaging in social events. Some examples of social prescribing activities include:
- Community gardening
- Walking groups
- Book clubs
- Gym classes
- Dancing classes
- Art groups
And going beyond what some might see as simply finding entertaining or engaging hobbies, social prescribing also pays attention to the financial stress with more specific activities like:
- Career coaching
- Debt management workshops
Social prescribing differs from specific support groups directly relating to a condition. Instead it promotes general interaction with others in positive and healthy events or pastimes.
The Importance of Holistic Health
By definition the entire concept of taking a holistic approach is treating the “whole person”. In the spirit of holistic health, treatment should address every aspect of health, including:
- Societal circumstances
With the majority of primary care physicians and general practitioners, there is a lack of resources to design a unique and comprehensive outline for their patients from a non-medical perspective. Most do not have the expertise to customize a holistic plan that includes a variety of socially and financially stimulating activities.
However, because people are beginning to understand the importance of holistic health, positions such as link workers allow for creating a drug-free prescriptive. The link workers also serve to guide the patient through the process, sticking with them to track their participation and progress. The study suggests that the practice of social prescribing has enormous potential to ignite a psychological and physical uprising in well-being.
With those struggling with substance use disorder the importance of holistic health is immeasurable. There is not enough that can be said about the impact of providing support to every aspect of an individual’s life when trying to help them overcome something so physically, mentally, financially and personally damaging. If we can insist anyone is more in need of holistic health, it is the people who are struggling with substance use disorder. The need for attention to medical needs, while having therapeutic care and opportunities for social and life skills training can be a game changer.
The Orchid Recovery Center, as part of the Palm Healthcare Company, prides itself on commitment to holistic healing. With personalized treatment programs we have continued to look for the best way to treat each individual in every aspect. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now 1-800-777-9588.