Doctors in Brussels can prescribe museum visits as medicine to restore mental health during the Covid pandemic. So says Delphine Houba, director at Culture and Tourism in the Belgian capital, in an interview with the French-language daily L’Echo.
Houba says in the paper that “art has been shown to be good for mental and physical health.” It draws on research in the Canadian province of Québec, where prescription museum visits were already introduced in 2018 by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Order of Physicians.
In Brussels, this is currently a three-month pilot project. The psychiatric department of the Brugmann hospital, of which Houba was chairman in the past, works together with five museums under its responsibility, including the Brussels city museum and the fashion museum.
Patients of the stress clinic of Brugmann Hospital who are suffering from the pandemic can be prescribed a free individual guided museum visit as well as a group visit with six to eight patients.
Houba wants to take stock at the end of 2021. According to her, it is certain that the pandemic has led to more stress, burnout and other psychological complaints. She hopes that other Belgian museums will join the project and will also be willing to grant free entry to patients with a doctor’s prescription.