This project completed a pilot trial of a social prescription on the upper reaches of the Bristol Frome, in the South Gloucestershire region.
‘Social prescribing’ refers to the range of non-medical referral options, such as nature-based interventions, that medical professionals can use alongside existing treatments to improve health and wellbeing. The project aimed to contribute to a growing evidence base on the benefits of social prescribing by showing that a social prescribing intervention could be completed which was safe, had a positive effect, targeted a cohort of patients who were likely to benefit and that this would be likely to lead to lower healthcare costs in the long term.
By facilitating access to and engagement with a local natural environment, the project aimed to improve the wellbeing of individuals with mental health illnesses. The process also raised awareness of local conservation issues, creating connections that will last beyond the scope of the project and contribute to environmental management of the Bristol Frome.
Furthermore, the analysis and reporting of the project was intended to allow lessons learnt to be disseminated more widely, providing a precedent for social prescribing interventions elsewhere.
The key outcomes of this Phase 1 report are the lessons learnt around recruitment of participants, tailoring of sessions to meet the requirements of those with mental health illness, and in design of an evaluative framework. Such lessons are explored in detail in the report and will be invaluable in the setting up of future programmes.