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‘Amazing’ study underlines benefits of fishing on mental health


The UK’s biggest tackle retailer, Angling Direct, has partnered in a new study that reveals that fishing can help people suffering with mental health problems.

The survey found that those who go fishing are less likely to self-harm, attempt suicide or report anxiety.

The Norfolk-based company worked with Anglia Ruskin University and the charity, Tackling Minds, to conduct the online survey.

Of those adults who said they fished, significantly fewer stated that they suffered from anxiety disorder (16.5% versus 26.4%), had attempted suicide (7.5% versus 13.2%), and engaged in deliberate self-harm (10.4% versus 20.6%) compared to those who did not fish. The main motivators were the challenge of fishing and relaxation.

“At Angling Direct our purpose is to get everyone fishing,” said Angling Direct CEO Andy Torrance. “Anglers have long known that the combination of fishing and relaxation in the outdoors is great for their general wellbeing and mental health.

“We are very excited about the potential implications to support social prescribing and further public health interventions.”

In 2021, Tackling Minds was successful in getting angling recognised as an official social prescribing activity on the National Health Service (NHS) because of its many mental health and wellbeing benefits.

Tackling Minds founder David Lyons said: “We have been told on numerous occasions by our service users that if it were not for the fishing sessions, they don’t think they’d be alive today.

“To now have scientific evidence to back up what we have been saying all along is unbelievable, to say the least. The wider implications this research will have, not only in the angling sector, but also mental health provision will be amazing to see.”

Lee Smith, Professor of Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “The work we have carried out has highlighted that individuals who fish have lower levels of diagnosed anxiety disorder, suicide attempts and instances of deliberate self-harm compared to those who do not fish.

“This would suggest that encouraging participation in fishing could be a good dual-method strategy for both promoting relaxation and good mental health as well as encouraging increased levels of physical activity within those with mental health issues such as anxiety disorder.”

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