Doctors should consider prescribing fewer pills and more visits to the library or trips to the concert hall, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will say.
In a speech to the King’s Fund healthcare think tank, Mr Hancock will argue that access to the arts can be an antidote to a range of conditions including mental health problems, ageing and loneliness.
He will announce plans for the creation of a new national academy for “social prescribing” to spread the benefits of “person-centred” remedies.
“We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac when what we should be doing is more prevention and perspiration,” he is expected to say.
“Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people … dishing out drugs when it isn’t what’s best for the patient and it won’t solve their problem.”
The announcement comes after he set out plans on Monday for a radical shift in the NHS towards preventing disease and illness.
In his speech to the King’s Fund, Mr Hancock, a former culture secretary, will say social prescribing of arts and culture should become an “indispensable tool” for doctors to help aid patients’ recovery.
“We should value the arts because they’re essential to our health and well-being. And that’s not me as a former culture secretary, who’s spent a lot of time around luvvies, saying it,” he is expected to say.
“It’s scientifically proven. Access to the arts improves people’s mental and physical health. It makes us happier and healthier.”