Saturday 20 January 2018

#419 Let them paint pictures

Things were going well at CoolTan Arts. Having settled into new building they'd successfully negotiated the use of last year, the small mental health charity was expanding its range of workshops and reaching out to local medical practices for referrals.

I'd come in ninety minutes early for volunteering to edit a letter that was going to the GPs, introducing CoolTan's well-being assessments and other services. After fretting over the formatting for a while, I set about clarifying the importance of social prescribing, a term that appeared throughout the letter. To do that, I was going to have to find out what it meant.

Elizabeth, the Communications Officer, had left me a copy of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Well-being's inquiry report from July 2017, which hurled all manner of recommendations at the NHS, the government and the country's arts institutions for getting doses of culture to those that needed it. I waded through the first few pages looking for usage of the term and in the end gave up and Google'd it. It was another way of saying "community referrals". Prescribing various forms of social engagement to improve well-being.

Had the report come from the Tories, it might have looked like government's way of skimping on proper treatment options and handing vulnerable people paintbrushes because they were cheaper than therapy but this was an All-Party group. Besides, from where I sat, it seemed likely enough that getting creative and sociable was good for the attendees' health. I'd met some of them and they'd attested to it. Plus the group leaders tended to be well-qualified and used established assessments to evaluate the candidates, in conjunction with the GP's recommendations.

I looked up a couple of articles on the subject, read through some of the stats from the report and then hastily cracked on with the letter. I knew I'd spent a few minutes too long on the formatting at the beginning. Now I had several paragraphs to squeeze in before Elizabeth came back at 1:30. She wouldn't mind of course if I wasn't quite finished but I had aimed to be and sticking to my plans was something I was trying to get better at this year. For the sake of my own well-being.

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