FISHING PRESCRIBED ON THE NHS!

FISHING PRESCRIBED ON THE NHS!

by Chris Haydon |

This significant endorsement of the sport’s life-changing qualities will begin with a trial scheme in the South West.

Under the pilot, which will begin referring patients this summer, GPs at seven surgeries in the Somer Valley, Somerset, will prescribe fishing to those with conditions such as depression and anxiety. Angling is one outdoor activity seen as part of the ‘green prescribing’ solution, which links countryside pursuits with restorative effects.

At least one large local angling club has agreed to provide access to fishing kit and venues for the scheme, Angling Times understands, although more are expected to follow suit as it gathers momentum.

FISHING PRESCRIBED ON THE NHS!

People will be able to be prescribed angling by their GP as one of a number of activities to improve mental health

Angling’s advantage

Dom Garnett, who has been part of the planning process with the Angling Trust, told us:

“People will be able to be prescribed angling by their GP as one of a number of activities to improve mental health.

“Our sport has an advantage over some of the other activities labelled as ‘green space’ or ‘blue space’ therapy because it can be sociable or, for those with anxiety when around groups, it can be a solitary pursuit.

“If we get some good case studies from this pilot then we can get the message out there that angling is really good for you. I see no reason why this can’t go nationwide, which would be brilliant for angling.”

FISHING PRESCRIBED ON THE NHS!

“I see no reason why this can’t go nationwide, which would be brilliant for angling”

The scheme’s backers

The trial in Somerset is backed by a partnership between Natural England, Wessex Water, the University of Bath, Bath and North East Somerset Council and the local NHS. It has been funded by Wessex Water, Defra and Natural England and is expected to run for three years, but may be extended to five if funding can be secured.

Wessex Water has backed the scheme because it’s keen to reduce the use of anti-depressants in the Somer Valley. These find their way into the sewage system and are costly to remove. The utility company has said that it will monitor water quality during the scheme and the University of Bath will track the project’s effectiveness by surveying GPs. Water companies elsewhere are also likely to monitor the impact of the trial with a view to duplicating it.

FISHING PRESCRIBED ON THE NHS!

The trial is expected to run for three years

Fishing as a force for good

Organisations such as iCARP have demonstrated angling’s ability to help servicemen and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues, but this NHS-backed scheme adds further endorsement and boosts the sport’s flourishing public image. When lobbying for a safe return to the banks after last year’s initial lockdown, the Angling Trust’s When We Fish Again proposal quoted Dr Paul Stolk as saying:

“It is evident that participation in angling can have a positive effect on personal health and wellbeing, most notably as a means by which an individual can escape or recover from stress, trouble or illness.”

Dom Garnett added:

“We know the therapeutic value of angling and more case studies will only help us grow and reach more people. This will help take it from the anecdotal to the real world, proving it works. It’s great for mental health generally, with fewer people needing expensive therapy and popping pills.”

FISHING PRESCRIBED ON THE NHS!

“We know the therapeutic value of angling”

A step in the right direction

Commenting on the scope of the pilot scheme, Dom said:

“It’s not a silver bullet – it won’t be for people with really serious mental health issues and it’s not going to be perhaps the only answer or definitive answer, but it could help a lot of people.

“There will be a lot of people who haven’t processed what they’re going through and will still carry the scars and anxiety of lockdown once we emerge from it, and I believe fishing could be of huge benefit.

“Angling is more visible than ever. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it was seen as part of the solution as we return to normality?”

Jane Wright, a senior adviser at Natural England said:

“I’m pleased to be overseeing this fantastic project, working with partners to embed the use of green prescribing to improve mental health and wellbeing.

“This year has shown how essential nature is to our wellbeing. Angling offers a great opportunity for people to connect with nature and enjoy a sport that’s healthy and fun. The health and wellbeing benefits of fishing are well-known and we hope to see a positive impact on the community and those who need additional support.”

FISHING PRESCRIBED ON THE NHS!

Angling offers a great opportunity for people to connect with nature and enjoy a sport that’s healthy and fun

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