Could a prescription of surfing help with depression?


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A new trial is exploring if prescriptions of surfing, gardening and dance classes can reduce anxiety and depression in people aged 11 to 18. NHS mental health trusts in 10 parts of England will use a range of sports, arts and outdoor activities with 600 young people to see if it can stop conditions worsening while the sufferers are on waiting lists for care. This kind of support is known as ‘social prescribing’, allowing health professionals to refer patients to a range of community groups and organisations. But while social prescribing programmes are being rolled out around the world, a recent review has found scant evidence of their effectiveness. Madeleine Finlay speaks to Prof Susan Smith about the ideas behind social prescribing, its potential benefits for those with complex issues, and why more studies are urgently needed. Help support our independent journalism at

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