Having faced serious mental health challenges for most of his adult life, ex-soldier Roy Robinson is positive about his future again thanks to receiving a pioneering ‘social prescription’.

The 44-year-old from Glossop lives with anxiety and depression, and in recent years had been struggling to even go out of the house. Roy’s social worker stepped in, referring him to his local community and voluntary group, The Bureau, feeling he needed more than medication.

Through The Bureau Roy met community navigator Ruth who introduced him to activities including dry-stone walling and gardening and woodworking at a local group called The Men’s Shed. He’s met new people, developed new skills and discovered a new-found confidence.

Said Roy: “Social prescribing has changed my life – Ruth introduced me to so many things, helped me overcome my fear of going out and got me meeting new people which is something I’d never have dreamt of doing three or four years ago.”

Across Greater Manchester more people like Roy are being given these ‘prescriptions with a difference’, connecting them with community-based groups and activities that will help them feel better without medicine. The innovative and growing movement aims to provide support for all aspects of people’s emotional, social and physical wellbeing.

Research shows that 90% of health problems are affected by the patient’s wellbeing. Social prescribing can be an alternative or addition to traditional medication which aids recovery by matching people with non-clinical support services such as befriending schemes, physical activities, social clubs, housing and debt support and much more.

Through new and improved links built through devolution and added funding, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the voluntary sector, and statutory bodies such as GPs, hospitals and social services are working together to develop structured local social prescribing models that are tailored to the individual.

Through these activities Roy developed his knowledge, skills and confidence and for the first time in years is looking forward to the future.

Reflecting on his experience of social prescribing Roy said: “When you achieve something, like building a wall from nothing, you get a sense of achievement that makes you feel better than any sort of medicine or drug could.

“My whole perspective of life has been changed and because of devolution more health and social care professionals in Greater Manchester are offering social prescribing which is absolutely fabulous.”

Speaking about social prescribing, Jon Rouse, Chief Officer at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Devolution has given us the perfect opportunity to bring together the great work of the voluntary sector and create connections with statutory bodies so we can support people differently. Our ambition is for every locality in Greater Manchester is to have a social prescribing model that works for their area and improves the lives, and wellbeing, of those that live there.

“Mental health and wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing and the two are very closely linked. Connecting people to their local community and activities that will enrich and improve their life can make a world of difference; building people’s confidence and helping them to feel better.”

You can learn more about Roy’s experience by watching his video, launched this week as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, here:

 

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