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Belgian doctors will prescribe visits to sewerage museum and other designated attractions, to tackle Covid stress

Inpatients suffering from stress at Brugmann hospital in Brussels, Belgium, will soon be prescribed visits to a selection of museums, in an effort to combat mental health problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Doctors at the hospital will be able to prescribe visits to Brussels’ Sewer Museum, the Fashion & Lace Museum, the Contemporary Art Centre, the Guardian reported. Museums on Grand Place – which include the Brussels City Museum and the Maison du Roi – will also be included in the program. It’s thought that such a visit could help the patient’s mental health.

The occupational prescriptions will be trialed over three months, after which the data will be analysed to see whether such schemes are successful and should be expanded.

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Delphine Houba, Brussels’ alderwoman for culture, told L’Echo newspaper that the Covid crisis, “accentuating stress, burnout and other pathologies, has confirmed the relevance of such a project,” noting that studies have shown “art can be beneficial for health, both mental and physical.”

Houba – who said the scheme was inspired by a similar one in Canada – also expressed hope that all museums in Brussels would provide “free access and support” to vulnerable visitors suffering from mental health problems if the results of the trial are positive.

In 2018, Francophone Doctors of Canada partnered with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) to allow doctors to write free museum prescriptions for patients in need of a “neutral, beautiful, inspiring space.”

The sewerage museum might, however, be one to avoid for those feeling particularly down in the dumps.

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