Social Prescription

Our most vulnerable community members have complex needs, and navigating support services can be challenging. United Way is consulting with and connecting to community stakeholders to explore social prescription, a new model for ensuring people have the physical, mental and social support they need to thrive.

What is Social Prescription?

Visiting a museum to admire beautiful  things is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. New research reveals that this type of experience also holds potential to  impact our health and wellbeing. Studies show that people living with depression, chronic pain, anxiety and stress can  reduce their symptoms when they feel more connected to   their communities.

A museum visit is just one example of what a social prescription can look like. Social prescriptions allow healthcare, community and social service professionals to refer people to non-medical treatment as therapeutic tools for improving health and wellbeing. A social prescription is monitored, just like a medical prescription, and aims to reduce symptoms anddecrease doctor and hospital visits.


“Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes per day.”


Loneliness is a major health threat. People with a weak sense of community belonging are more likely to be in the top 5% of healthcare service users, accounting for more than 50% of total healthcare spending.

Social Prescription Conversations


Social prescribing may look different in different communities, depending on local needs and capacity. And so, the United Way is exploring what our local assets, needs, capacity, and interests might be around social prescription. Outside of government, United Way is the largest funder of social services in Canada. United Way holds a unique ability to bring together community partners in health care, government, education,  and social services. Creating a comprehensive and accessible network of care in Halton & Hamilton requires collaboration across these diverse  sectors..

Are you an organization or stakeholder interested in learning more? Email Mike at to receive updates and join the conversation!

Thank you to our lead partners on this initiative:

This program is funded by:

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.

Sarah HodgsonSocial Prescription