This week is mental health awareness week here in the U.K. The aim of which is to bring focus and promote awareness of all facets of mental illness and how it is not limited to just anyone. Here at Bear we are very passionate about talking about and promoting positive mental health, and the use of fly fishing to improve mental wellbeing.
Mental health and its most severe extension, suicide, is one of the biggest killers worldwide. According to the WHO organisation statistics it has overtaken the likes of lower respiratory disease (pneumonia) as a global health concern. In the U.K. alone 1 in 4 people experience mental health-related issues annually. In a population of 66 million, that’s 21.5 million people per year.
Both Oscar and I have personal experiences with mental health difficulties. I suffer from generalised anxiety and depressive disorder and Oscar suffers from depression. My father died from mental illness just over 3 years ago. I work in a profession (veterinary medicine) where the suicide rates for females is 3.5 times and males 2.1 times the national average. Mental health is a prominent part of our lives, almost as prominent as fly fishing.
We want to promote positive wellbeing and open the lines of communication about mental health difficulties. We want to use this sport to build communities between people and provide an outlet from the world’s stressors.
Fly fishing has been proven to induce a ‘flow state’ as it incorporates a repetitive physical action (casting) with an intense focus on the position of the fly on the water, breaking the everyday train of thought. It evokes the body’s natural relaxation response causing a reduction in adrenaline and cortisol leading to a lower heart rate, blood pressure and increasing muscle relaxation. Being surrounded by nature and immersed in water creates a sense of calm, peace and completeness within the chosen environment. Having people to fish with, even new people allows a forum by which we can talk to each other and lean on each other in a safe calm place.
We would love to hear how fly fishing has impacted your mental health. If you don't fish and think fly fishing might benefit you, then perhaps we can help you take up the sport, get in touch anytime.
Nell and Oscar.
I wanted to reach out and say thank you for writing this. A couple of years ago my life was turned completely upside down when I began to experience multiple panic attacks a day. Eventually, it led to me having to quit my job. I was in a very dark place and knew I needed help. I began seeing a counselor, taking meds, and doing things in which I felt “grounded”. Well, my childhood/young adult life was spent in Alaska. I loved and breathed fishing. However, after leaving for Colorado I never really picked up a rod. So in my search for things that made me feel grounded I remembered the connection I felt when fishing. I smell of the fish and water mixed with the Forrest. The mystery of what each cast held. The connect of watching my surroundings and learning from them how to catch the fish. I picked up a tenkara rod and began to return to the sanctuary of my youth. Eventually, that led to getting a fly rod setup. Fly fishing has become something sacred in my life. It’s not the gear that does it for me. Its the connection to the sacred or spiritual I find there. Now I am not claiming fishing has been a cure all but it has been a part of my journey to well being.
Thank you again for sharing! More people need to hear this message!