There is a world in which not every person going to their doctor with a health condition—be that physical or mental—exits the surgery dosed up to the nines with medicines. And that matters. Because the root cause of their problem may be about other, non-medical, things: poor, overcrowded, and under or overheated housing; a lack of income, even if they are actually entitled to more benefits; worries about unaffordable debt; stress at work or anxiety at home; and—perhaps most important of all—loneliness. There are all these people getting the ‘wrong’ prescription, taking up the time and resources of a very stretched NHS.
To make this change happen, we need everyone to join in. We need doctors to ‘get it’ and enthusiastically embrace the case for their patients being ‘treated’ in non-medical ways. We need the charities and community groups that can provide many of the services—from mental health advice to gardening clubs, from walking football to relationship counselling—to be willing and able to play a key part. We need local authorities and other statutory bodies to be fully involved, with their advice and support services clearly signposted and delivered to those who need them. And we need patients to not feel hard done by if they are not given medicines.