Wex Photo Video collaborates with the National Academy of Social Prescribing to pioneer ‘Photography on Prescription,’ a trailblazing initiative allowing patients and community groups to access photography equipment and masterclasses, aiming to alleviate mental health struggles through self-expression, community engagement, and the therapeutic power of capturing life through a lens.
Photography is now available on prescription for people struggling with their mental health, as part of a pilot project launched by Wex Photo Video and supported by the National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP).
Social prescribing works by a GP or healthcare professional referring a patient to a link worker who gets to know the individual and prescribes activities to enrich their life. Through the ‘Photography on Prescription’ programme, patients and community groups will access equipment provided by Wex and photography masterclasses with the goal of improving their mental health.
Research suggests that taking part in creative activities such as photography can help people suffering from depression, anxiety and even PTSD by boosting self-esteem, reducing stress and combatting loneliness. Social prescribing can reduce the need for medical support and has been shown in some cases to reduce GP consultations by an average of 28% and A&E attendances by 24%.
Paul Wareham, Marketing Director of Wex Photo Video, says; “Photography can be so much more than a hobby; it’s a powerful tool for conveying emotion. By giving people with mental health difficulties access to masterclasses, equipment and ongoing support, we want to connect them to a wider community; help develop their self-esteem and give them a channel for self-expression. Whilst photography will never be the total solution, we hope that this project will help some people who are currently struggling.”
Community group START in Greater Manchester has signed up to be part of the programme which includes:
- Photography masterclasses: Wex Photo Video will host in-person photography masterclasses to educate participants about the art and science of photography, allowing them to build a community at the same time as developing their skills and techniques. The masterclasses will be led by photographer Daniel Regan who uses the power of photography to facilitate difficult conversations and explore complex emotional experiences
- Photography equipment: Participants in the programme will be able to use provided Canon cameras with their photos printed out in specially created journals to help them embark on their creative journey
- Online resources: Wex Photo Video will provide online resources to programme participants so they can continue to explore the world of photography beyond the pilot project
Supporting ‘Photography on Prescription’, Dr Alex George, an NHS doctor and mental health ambassador says; “Social prescribing can boost self-esteem and improve your mental wellbeing. Having recently taken up photography, I can say first-hand that there is something truly remarkable about being behind the camera. Many people with mental health issues struggle to express their thoughts and emotions with words, which can make it difficult to convey how they are feeling and what they need. The saying goes that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ – that’s exactly what makes photography such a powerful outlet for self-expression.”
The masterclass at START will take place on 20th November with two sessions over the course of the day, where participants will experiment with two different photographic activities. Using the Canon cameras, participants will capture images to tell a story about their identity with Daniel Regan encouraging them to look at their world differently.
Charlotte Osborn-Forde, Chief Executive of the National Academy for Social Prescribing, says: “Social prescribing typically involves a GP or other healthcare professional referring a patient to a link worker who works closely with that person to understand the issues that are affecting their health and wellbeing. From there, the link worker supports that person to develop a plan, which could include getting practical support for housing or debt, or taking part in activities like gardening, dance, cooking, painting or, thanks to initiatives like this, photography.
A key part of the NHS’s Personalised Care programme, social prescribing can make a huge difference to people experiencing loneliness, poor mental health or a wide range of physical health conditions.”
The project is the first step in what Wex hopes will become a long-term initiative to support people, especially those with low level mental health issues, through photography. Their ambition is to expand the ‘Photography on Prescription’ programme to partner with more community groups and add to their online resources.
For more information on Wex Events and how to use photography as a therapeutic tool, please visit the website here.