In Brief

Doctors in Quebec Will Soon Prescribe Museum Visits as Medicine

The pilot program employs art to relieve a variety of physical and mental illnesses.

A sculpture in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (via Filip Maljković’s Flickrstream)

Yesterday, October 18, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) announced a new ordinance that may redefine our notions of healthcare. Starting November 1, physicians belonging to the Médecins francophones du Canada are able to prescribe ailing patients a trip to the MMFA. The best part? Canada’s free healthcare will scrap the $23 ticket cost.

“There’s more and more scientific proof that art therapy is good for your physical health. It increases our level of cortisol and our level of serotonin. We secrete hormones when we visit a museum and these hormones are responsible for our well-being,” said Dr. Hélène Boyer, who is the vice-president of Médecins francophones du Canada and the head of the family medicine group at the CLSC St-Louis-du-Parc, as reported by the Montreal Gazette.

She continued, “People tend to think this is only good for mental-health issues. That it’s for people who’re depressed or who have psychological problems. But that’s not the case. It’s good for patients with diabetes, for patients in palliative care, for people with chronic illness. Since the ’80s we’ve been prescribing exercise for our patients because we know exercise increases exactly the same hormones. But when I have patients who’re over 80, it’s not obvious that I can prescribe exercise for them.”

Each doctor may assign up to 50 art prescriptions, which allows entry for two adults and two children under 17 to the MMFA — a hefty value considering the rising prices of museum entry. This one-year pilot program is the first of its kind globally.

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