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NEWS > Alumnae News > Will NHS Social Prescribing Help Young People?

Will NHS Social Prescribing Help Young People?

Dr Daisy Fancourt, Class of 2008, is running the first NHS trial to assess if young people with anxiety and depression will benefit from dancing, rollerskating or gardening as prescribed by their GPs.

As part of the study, funded by the Prudence Trust, the NHS will offer these activities to 600 11-18-year-old in England and Wales who are on the waiting lists for care for moderate mental health conditions.

Daisy Fancourt, who is an Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and Health at UCL, says: “Young people’s mental health is one of the greatest challenges facing the NHS. Currently many young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services face long waits, during which time more than three-quarters experience a deterioration in their mental health.”

She explains: “Social prescribing has been rolled out nationally by the NHS since 2018, but unfortunately many children and young people are not engaging in social prescribing and the evidence base for this population is still in its infancy.

“I’m delighted that the Prudence Trust are funding this programme, which has the potential to increase social prescribing among children and young people by offering a new pathway to community activities, enhancing person-centred care, and positively transforming the experiences of children and young people on mental health service waiting lists.”

If the trial proves a success, and participants feel less anxious, depressed and lonely, the scheme could be rolled out across England to help the thousands of young people on the waiting list for formal care.

Tara Leathers, Director of the Prudence Trust, said: “UCL is a powerhouse of children and young people’s mental health research. We want to partner with organisations which can help to advance our understanding of children and young people’s mental health and whose research will have a real-world impact. Dr Fancourt’s INSPYRE programme has the potential to significantly increase social prescribing youth referrals, and to build a strong knowledge base through the development of a new social prescribing care pathway. We look forward to exploring the impact of this project on children and young people’s mental health.”

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