Photography Is Now a Prescribed Mental Health Treatment In the UK

A silhouette of a women takes a photo outdoors.

The United Kingdom will now allow photography to be prescribed for mental health treatment as part of a new pilot program from Wex Photo Video.

Three community groups in Britain have already signed up for the pilot program, including Arts Network in London, creativeShift in Bristol, and START Centre in Greater Manchester.

One participant from London says she “feels more motivated than ever to use her camera to express [her] emotions,” according to a release from Wex Photo Video.

The National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP) is a British charity that advocates for treatment that involves things like community interaction and hobbies that can be fulfilling. NASP describes social prescribing as non-medical support that can help address someone’s issues and needs, like loneliness and stress. Additionally, the NASP supports the Wex Photo Video pilot with chief executive Charlotte Osborn-Forde saying, “A key part of the NHS’ Personalised Care program, social prescribing can make a huge difference to people experiencing loneliness, poor mental health or a wide range of physical health conditions.”

Healthcare professionals can refer patients who may benefit from photography. From there, the Photography on Prescription pilot will give patients and community groups access to equipment provided by Wex, and photography masterclasses led by photographer Daniel Regan. Wex offers Canon cameras and participants can have their photos printed in specially-created journals, according to a release. There will also be online resources that Wex says will help beyond the pilot program.

“Photography can be so much more than a hobby; it’s a powerful tool for conveying emotion,” Paul Wareham, Marketing Director of Wex Photo Video, explains in a release. 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.”

According to a release from Wex, the company hopes this will be the first step within a long-term initiative to help people struggling with mental health issues through photography. The group also hopes to add more participating programs and expand its resources.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.