Photography is now available on prescription for people struggling with their mental health, as part of a project launched by Wex Photo Video and supported by the National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP).
The project aims to help those struggling with mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The idea is to boost self-esteem, reduce stress, and combat loneliness through the power of photography.
The prescription will include access to photography workshops, online resources, and photography equipment, provided by Wex Photo Video. Due to the fantastic results, social prescribing has become more popular as a way to help improve mental health. Social prescribing is the term for when a medical practitioner such as a GP or therapist, prescribes social activities as a way to enrich the patient's life. In the UK this has involved the prescription of fishing, physical activities, and spending time in nature.
According to the UKGov website, social prescribing can reduce the need for medical support and has been shown in some cases to reduce GP consultations by an average of 28% and A&E attendance by 24%. Three community groups have already signed up to be a part of the program including Arts Network in London, creativeShift in Bristol, and START Centre in Greater Manchester.
NHS Doctor and Mental Health ambassador Dr Alex George, who endorses social prescribing, is also supporting the project. When speaking on social prescribing and the benefits of including photography Dr. George says:
“Social prescribing can boost self-esteem and improve your mental wellbeing. Having recently taken up photography, I can say first-hand that there is something truly remarkable about being behind the camera. Many people with mental health issues struggle to express their thoughts and emotions with words, which can make it difficult to convey how they are feeling and what they need. The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words – that’s exactly what makes photography such a powerful outlet for self-expression.”
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Many of us know firsthand the benefits that photography has on our well-being. Whether it is getting fresh air outdoors, translating feelings into creative imagery, or capturing time-lapses in a meditative state. Projects like this become much more viable when they have the backing of large-profile corporations such as Wex Photo Video. Wex's support will allow more people to benefit from our hobby and get much-needed help. Paul Wareham, Marketing Director of retailer Wex Photo Video, says:
“Photography can be so much more than a hobby; it's a powerful tool for conveying emotion. By giving people with mental health difficulties access to masterclasses, equipment, and ongoing support, we want to connect them to a wider community; help develop their self-esteem and give them a channel for self-expression. Whilst photography will never be the total solution, we hope that this project will help some people who are currently struggling.”
As somebody who suffers from the issues mentioned in this article, I am all for more of this type of work from large companies, and I am very impressed by Wex for driving this to fruition. This project will allow photography to be more accessible to those who need it most, and that is nothing short of admirable.
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