In November, talk to a horse: doctors prescribe nature to patients

Shetland island has started prescribing nature in conjunction with other treatments to their patients.

This news comes after a successful pilot at Scalloway GP surgery, the largest island within the Shetlands. The prescription will acknowledge that time spent in nature can help reduce anxiety and blood pressure and help improve happiness.

Dr Chloe Evans, GP at Scalloway Health Centre told Voice of London, “The project provides a structured way for patients to access nature as part of a non-drug approach to health problems.”

Whilst London GPs may not openly be prescribing ‘nature’ as a way to treat patients, Jean Paisley, a specialist case management pharmacist at NHS tells us, “the nature initiative is nothing new. It is well known that both exercise and sunlight can improve mood, so there is no reason why these methods can’t be put into practice in London.”

NHS England currently advertise “Social Prescribing,” which involves helping patients improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare by connecting them to community services which might be run by the council or a local charity.

Dr Damien Hughes, anaesthetist at The Ulster hospital, tells Voice of London, “While the wildlife side may be difficult to “prescribe” for Londoners, the idea of getting out into the green spaces, and promoting mindfulness is one that could definitely give similar benefits. The whole idea of being outside and immersing yourself in the moment, noticing the landscape, being mindful, has a good basis in practice for anxiety and depression.”

Dr Hughes also highlighted the intercity benefits of life in London, “There may be group relaxation techniques available, like outdoors tai chi, which wouldn’t be an option in the Shetlands. Getting close to nature in London could mean something different, for example allotments.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scotland created a calendar of seasonal activities supporting the news at Scalloway GP.

January – Step outside – be still for three minutes and listen

April – Clouds are often described as wispy (cirrus), heaped (cumulus) and layered (stratus). What clouds are in the sky today?

June – Sit cross-legged on the ground, close your eyes and listen to the birds

November – Talk to a pony

Try these activities at any number of London local parks as shown below!



Words: Fiona Patterson

Subbing: Sonakshi Sharma

Feature Image: Robert Bye on Unsplash, all images curtesy of Unsplash


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