Published on: 21st July 2022

Tackling Minds 1.JPGA unique form of therapy is proving beneficial for people needing support with their mental health.

Patients from Prospect Place, a mental health unit at Birch Hill Hospital in Rochdale run by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, have been taking part in fishing classes run by Tackling Minds – an organisation using fishing to help people’s mental health.

The group fishing sessions, taking place across the borough of Rochdale, give people the chance to unwind and socialise outdoors at their own pace.

Being in a quiet, open space means there aren’t any pressures with eye contact or personal space, which some people find difficult.

The therapeutic nature of fishing lends itself to helping the mind, it requires calm, patience and a lot of focus. The patients who attend Tackling Minds’ sessions said they’ve found them a really helpful way to speak to people, clear their mind and relieve stress.

Dave Lyons started Tackling Minds after battling alcohol addiction, major anxiety disorder and depression for almost a decade. He found that fishing really helped his mental health. His work since then has continued to grow to the point where fishing therapy is now prescribed by the NHS:

“Since we started to offer fishing as a form of therapy, it’s really grown to where we now work with several NHS Trusts. It’s offered by the NHS on a national level now and we feel quite proud to have been one of the first, whose model has been used as a template for others.

“The sessions represent what might be the only opportunity for someone to get out in our green spaces, learn a new skill, feel a sense of achievement and have something to look forward to.

“It’s been great fishing with patients from Prospect Place. Since our first session they’ve become more socially engaged and they look more positive physically; there’s a step in their stride where they were once within themselves. Everybody is way more relaxed and enjoying life together.

“Our volunteers are a part of that process as we’ve all been through similar circumstance ourselves. There is no judgement and they know how to put people at ease. We all find it a privilege to be a part of someone else’s mental health journey.”