I WAS impressed. My son showed me a booklet his school had produced that guides students on what to do if they’re feeling low. It shows how much schools have changed; if anyone had said that they were feeling a bit down when I was at school, they’d have been told to pull themselves together!

Alongside contact details of the school counselling service and advice about taking exercise and what to do if you were worried about another pupil, there was advice about changing things yourself; joining a club, taking time to help someone else, relaxing, taking exercise, switching off, yoga and meditation.

Doing things to make you feel better now has a fancy new name; ‘social prescribing’. It’s available on the National Health and last summer the government pumped an additional £4.5m to encourage GPs to do more of it.

As well as promoting drop-ins and support groups for medical conditions, doctors are now putting patients in touch with voluntary and community groups – everything from the local Drink and Draw club in a local pub, to amateur dramatics, from part-time education to rambling and Parkruns. Salisbury Medical Practice’s purpose built medical centre on Wilton Road has almost as much community space as it does consulting rooms.

There is good evidence that it’s effective. Studies have shown improved wellbeing as well as a measurable decrease in the use of A & E and GP services. Not only does it work, it’s cheaper than drugs; more available than counselling and it’s proven to make patients feel and get better.

It’s not new. In 1692, army veterans who became pensioners at the recently opened Royal Hospital Chelsea were required to grow their own vegetables and armed to patrol the borough’s highways to deter robbers and bandits. Nowadays, with an average age of 82, they visit schools, help at the local night shelter, are active in the local community and take part in numerous clubs and hobby activities. Many of them talk about a ‘new lease of life’ and contrast life as a Chelsea Pensioner with the inactivity and purposelessness that is the lot of many in old age.

At the other end of the spectrum, universities promote mental wellbeing alongside academic attainment to their students; activities outside the lecture theatre and library are no longer seen as a distraction, but an essential part of developing a balanced and healthy lifelong habits.

Our health service, so long imbalanced by the pharmaceutical companies’ dominance of ‘cure-all’ prescription drugs, is being redressed. Alongside drugs lists, doctors are now being encouraged to have lists of local self-help and voluntary groups that they can ‘prescribe’ to their patients.

Medicines can treat symptoms, but you need a much broader approach to give people a quality of life so that they actually feel better. Prevention, they say, is even better than cure.