Books & Art

Here's a Prescription to Beat Pandemic Stress: Museums

Rx: Museums. 
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It’s not the first time doctors have prescribed hobbies and adventures as medicine for the soul. Doctors in the U.K. once prescribed gardening for patients struggling with anxiety and depression, and now, Belgian doctors are prescribing peaceful museum tours for patients struggling with stress due to the pandemic. 

Prolonged lockdown and isolation is not good for anyone’s mental health, so it’s no surprise we’re seeing more initiatives to protect our minds. In Belgium, a team of doctors have teamed up to start a trial at the Burgmann hospital for three months where patients dealing with stress can get the chance to visit five public museums for free. 

"The covid crisis, accentuating stress, burnout and other pathologies, has confirmed the relevance of a medical prescription project with a view to going to the museum,” said Delphine Houba to Belgian newspaper L’Echo. Houba is one of the leaders for the cultural and medical project in Brussels. 

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This isn’t the first program of its kind. In 2018, doctors and patients in Quebec ran a similar program where Canadians could be prescribed up to 50 museum visits a year for boost their mental health.

And while the idea itself is exciting and creative, it should come as no surprise that art is good for your soul. The arts as a whole have been known to fortify mental and physical health, so why not stress too, particularly during these stressful times. 

In the Philippines, most museums are still closed as the country flip-flops between GCQ, MECQ, and ECQ, but the programs in Belgium and Canada present a strong case to reopen them. Museum structures are already quite open with plenty of space for social distancing. Of course, museums aren't considered "essential" at the moment, but some might argue otherwise. 

Make sure to book your tickets the moment the door opens. It might just be exactly what your mind needs.

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Anri Ichimura
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