Welfare at Leeds: Time restriction vs Social Prescription

What can you do in 10 minutes? Ring home? Put out your laundry? Do your dishes?

What you can’t do in 10 minutes is have a conversation which delves deeply enough into all the aspects of your life which constitute your overall health and wellbeing.

The typical length of an appointment with a GP is 10 minutes. When a patient finds many facets of their life contributing to their ill health, whether mental or physical, it is hard for all of this to be appreciated in such a short period of time. When issues such as housing, finance, academic pressures, relationship worries whether with family, friends or a partner are weighing down you need the time and space to explore what is negatively affecting your health and wellbeing.

This issue is being tackled in Leeds now through the Social Prescribing initiative, which is funded by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups. It consists of a partnership between Leeds based charities including Connect for Health, Leeds Mind, Touchstone, Hamara, Barca-Leeds, Better Leeds Communities and Leeds Irish Health and Homes.

Social Prescribing aims to link patients from the doctor’s surgery into support within the community. This means that GP’s can offer a non-medical referral option which is designed to improve your health and wellbeing. It allows for people to be directed to services which help deal with issues such as debt, unemployment, substance misuse or support for those in abusive relationships. These new services can be accessed alongside the use of existing treatments, it doesn’t need to be the only answer, but it enhances the treatment that patients are receiving.

An active example of social prescribing within Leeds can be found at Oakwood Hall where a Green Gym project has been running since April. The members of the Green Gym meet every week, no matter what the weather. The group activity combats social isolation which affects many people with mental and physical illnesses, whilst also providing them with exercise, new skills and fresh air. This is just one example of the form social prescribing can take and the positive effect it can have on the local community.

Social Prescribing can also link people with more creative services or ones which are leisure based as it understands that people’s mental and physical health and complex and multi-faceted. This complexity means that everyone might need services which offer different methods of recuperation, yet all offering the chance to improve the patient’s wellbeing.

Don’t let your mental and physical health be neglected in the 10 minutes you have with a doctor or nurse. There are a multitude of services available which can help boost your wellbeing by looking past medical answers and exploring the complexity of mental and physical health.

For more information: https://connectforhealthleeds.org.uk/learn-more

You can also contact the Student Advice Centre to learn more about the services available to you on campus, and further afield in Leeds.

Martha Clowes

(Photo credit: http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/articles/view/the-pain-of-time)

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