Cycling and walking will be ‘prescribed’ in the West Midlands to help mental health and other conditions

People with poor mental health and other conditions are to be ‘prescribed’ outdoor activities, like walking and cycling, as part of a pilot scheme in the West Midlands.

The Active Black Country project will run in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton and is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) campaign to encourage the region’s residents to walk and cycle more following the pandemic.

This will see group of patients in each of the four regions will be signposted to activities such as walking and cycling to help ease loneliness, isolation, mental health conditions and complex social needs that affect their wellbeing.

Patients will be given a guide on walking and cycling including the locations of the parks and green open spaces available to them. They will also receive advice and guidance about the health-related benefits of being active and follow-up consultations will be conducted to gauge the impact.

Active Black Country and ‘social prescribing’ experts will be supporting health care professionals at four primary care networks, Dudley & Netherton, Citrus (Sandwell), Walsall West One and Wolverhampton Total Health to roll out the pilot which will help 40 people.

“Active Black Country is  working hard to ensure that all health care professionals, along with dedicated social prescribers, have the knowledge and resources required to signpost patients and clients to community solutions where appropriate,” said Active Black County’s head of insight, health and wellbeing, Michael Salmon.

“The resource that we have developed is a great way to encourage patients in primary care to access the wonderful parks and open spaces already available within their local community for the benefit of their health and wellbeing.”

West Midlands’ mayor, Andy Street, added: “Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, more people have taken to cycling and walking, which is of course brilliant news. At the WMCA we want to capitalise on that, which is why last week we launched the Starley Network – our re-imagined, re-branded, cycling vision for the West Midlands – and are also running the Roll & Stroll campaign.

“Not only does active travel improve people’s health and help the NHS, but it is also critical in tackling air pollution as part of the fight against climate change. I am therefore delighted that Active Black Country are launching this pilot for healthcare professionals to start prescribing cycling and walking.”

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