Walking has been prescribed by physicians in doctors since 2019 as part of the Social Prescribing campaign. Recently, a coalition of 19 organisations including health practitioners and charities are calling for the strategy to be rolled out nationwide.
Social prescribing includes a variety of activities and strategies that can help patients ease physical and mental health complaints. The programs feature over 60 activities that help people nurture emotional and social well-being.
Walking is a popular choice with patients recovering from physical illnesses due to its low-impact, low-entry barrier. The multiple benefits of walking also include helping people to overcome mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
However, the committee noted that individuals in Scotlands more deprived areas and neighbourhoods are not given sufficient access to green social prescribing programs.
The Holyrood report written by the parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee noted that:
“…actions to date to reduce health inequalities have largely failed, with health inequalities widening instead of narrowing”. [Source: holyrood.com]
What is Green Social Prescribing?
Green social prescribing falls under the broader scope of Universal Personalised Care organised by the NHS. Programs are designed to:
- improve mental health outcomes
- reduce health inequalities
- reduce demand on the health and social care system
- develop best practices in making green social activities more resilient and accessible.
In 2020, the UK government invested around £4.5 million of taxpayers’ money in community services that organise relevant activities including walking clubs, gardening, cooking, sports and arts activities.
The Holyrood report in Scotland, however, argues the programs fail to cater for the people that need access to social prescribing the most – low-income individuals on disability benefits. Patients are being denied access to social prescribing programs because of financial barriers.