Brighton GP practice is calling for less medication and more music to tackle mental health in the NHS

GP Laura Marshall Andrews, who founded UK’s first GP practice that integrates complementary therapies and arts programmes with GP services, calls for the NHS to embrace alternative therapies and art to tackle mental health issues.

Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre (BHWC), which was founded by Andrews, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £101,500 for the Healing Expressive and Recovery Arts project (HERA) in order to scale up a pilot that will prove how the NHS can save money on medication by embracing alternative therapies, music and dance in mental health treatments.

Finding Your Compass was part of Year 1 of HERA – by Fiona Geillinger and Dr Rosaria Gracia:

The campaign urgently needs match funding. The project, supported by The Arts Council, has been trialing healing through art for those excluded because of health issues. Dancing and singing improve mental health and social isolation. Here are some of the initial findings:

  • 81% of HERA’s singing group members reported making new friends and 71.5% improved their breathing;
  • 90% of participants in the book group engaged in additional cultural activities with 100% reporting increased wellbeing;
  • dance has been shown to improve co-ordination and reduce falls with the elderly.

According to an All Party Parliamentary Group in July 2017, the saving to the NHS budget for each £1 spent on arts in health is between £3 and £11.

Laura Marshall-Andrews said: “GPs need the freedom and the flexibility to try out different therapies and use different interventions. The HERA programme has changed many lives and adds humanity, creativity and community to health care. It is possible to live well with debilitating disease and projects like this help patients to see and experience that.”

The results from the HERA project will be shared nationally to support UK wide changes at a time where the NHS urgently needs a solution to its current funding crisis.

The HERA crowdfunding campaign ends on 31st July 2018. The campaign has raised almost £80,000 so far including funding from The Arts Council England.

More information can be found on the crowdfunding page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hera

Laura Marshall-Andrews Ted X talk

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