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Canadian doctors to start prescribing MUSEUM

It’s perhaps not the first thing you’d expect your doctor to prescribe you.

But patients in Canada will soon be able to be given free trips to the museum, if they are battling mental health issues.

Nearly 100 doctors have enrolled in the trial, believed to be the first in the world, in partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Nathalie Bondil, director of the MMFA, believes that cultural trips benefit health in a similar way to exercise.

Nearly 100 doctors have enrolled in the trial, believed to be the first in the world, in partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (pictured)

She said: ‘I am convinced that in the 21st century, culture will be what physical activity was for health in the 20th century.

‘Cultural experiences will benefit health and wellness, just as engaging in sports contributes to fitness.’

The Francophone Association of Doctors in Canada (MFdC) are behind the project alongside the MMFA, which launches next month.

The year-long trial will see the doctors who have signed up able to prescribe up to 50 visits to the museum. 

It is believed patients with both physical and mental health issues will be able to get prescribed trips to the museum.

Each pass is valid for up to two adults and two minors, meaning patients can take their family and friends with them.

Nicole Parent, head of the MFdC, claimed the pilot project shows doctors have a ‘sensitivity and openness to alternative approaches’.


Traditional depression treatments like psychotherapy or medication might work better for some patients when doctors add a dose of music therapy, a research review suggested last year.

Norwegian researchers examined data on 421 people who participated in nine previously completed short-term experiments testing the benefits of music therapy on its own or added to traditional interventions for depression.

Overall, the analysis, published by the Cochrane Library, found patients felt less depressed when music was added to their treatment regimen.

Music therapy also appeared to help ease anxiety and improve functioning in depressed individuals, and it appeared just as safe as traditional treatments.

Music therapy can include passive approaches that involve listening, active treatments that involve playing an instrument or singing or participating in a musical performance, or some combination of these approaches.  

She said the benefits of cultural trips are similar to that physical activity, prompting the release of feel-good hormones.

The MFdC will track the patients who are given the museum passes and analyse if it helped them with their conditions.

Ms Parent revealed she hopes other museums across Canada will follow the lead.

The MMFA is one of the most popular museums in North America, according to its own website.

Campaigners have called for similar prescriptions – such as music, arts and writing courses – to be allowed in the UK.

Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews, a GP in Brighton, claimed earlier this year the decision would boost the mental health of thousands.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing say every £1 spent on arts saves the NHS up to £11.

The new move in Canada comes after GPs in Shetland were last month allowed to offer nature prescriptions for the first time.

Nature prescriptions such as picking up driftwood from a beach are being offered by GPs in Shetland in what is believed to be a UK first.

NHS Shetland and RSPB Scotland teamed up for the initiative, which tells patients to take walks and pick up driftwood.

The pilot project had been trialled at one surgery on the islands but was then rolled out to all 10 practices.


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