Thumbs up for fishing therapy

Fishing therapy gets thumbs up from NHS for mentally ill patients

By Rebecca Coxon

Two NHS nurses have potentially started a new form of outdoor therapy for mentally ill patients after taking ten patients out on a fishing trip.

The nurses from Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Leverndale and Dykebar in Scotland, believed the therapy would bring a change in the patients’ lifestyle, encouraging them to carry out activities by themselves and surrounded by a peaceful environment.

Mr. John Kelly, a nursing assistant from Leverndale said, ‘We all find angling extremely therapeutic and thought that some of our patients would really benefit from it.’

‘We work with patients who have enduring mental health problems and long term life limiting conditions and we wanted to do something for them that would improve their quality of life and provide a change to their everyday routine.’

Exceeded expectations

 The results of the therapy proved to exceed expectations however, and the nurses now take patients fishing once a week, in groups of eight to ten, to New Haylie Loch in Largs.

 ‘We had brilliant feedback from our managers who were quick to help us establish a plan – the results have surpassed all our hopes. The patients love it so much even the wind and rain hasn’t put them off.’

Calum MacLeod, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde head of mental health, said; ‘We are tremendously proud of what the teams at both hospitals have achieved. Everyone, including our patients, are incredibly motivated and the resultant benefit to the patient’s health and wellbeing has been fantastic.’

A case study

Stephen Erskine, 44, a long-term patient in Leverndale Hospital being treated for mental health problems, takes part in the fishing scheme and is now taking his own initiative to help others and show them how to cast.

Stephen, from Pollok in Glasgow, said: ‘It’s great fun going out with the nurses. It’s a good sense of achievement when we catch fish – we caught 10 last time – and nice to get out to get some fresh air. It’s a very calming and relaxing thing to do and I feel a lot of pride in taking part.’

Nursing assistant John Kelly added: ‘Stephen had never fished before but now he’s a great help. I used to have to set up all the rods and keep a close eye on them but now Stephen has partly taken over that role.’

‘Stephen has gone from no skills at all to 100% fishing on his own, it’s a massive achievement.’

Outdoor ‘green’ exercise is good for mental health

The report comes alongside other recent research and different studies are suggesting that outdoor activities are far more effective at relieving stress and improving mental outlook, creativity and cognitive function.

An increasing amount of research is being applied to so-called ‘green exercise’ and how it affects mood and physiological markers of stress.

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