Fishing Could Ease Severe Mental Health Issues

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Fishing Could Ease Severe Mental Health Issues

Recently, Angling Direct teamed up with Anglia Ruskin Professor; Lee Smith and Tackling Minds to research the relationship between recreational fishing and mental health in a sample of UK adults. The results from this study are now published with links now established between mental health improvements and the health benefits of fishing.

The research was led by Professor Lee Smith, who is in the top 1% of researchers in the world. (Voted out of 6,938 researchers from 69 countries). Therefore this research carries incredible credibility in the world of science and academia.

The study, named; Fishing Participation, Motivators and Barriers among UK Anglers with Disabilities: Opportunities and Implications for Green Social Prescribing, was carried out by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Angling Direct Plc and the charity Tackling Minds. It surveyed approximately 1,900 UK, adults, online.

This study of UK adults found that:



Of those people who said they participated in recreational fishing, significantly fewer stated that they suffered from anxiety disorder (16.5% versus 26.4%).

Those who fish had fewer attempted suicides (7.5% versus 13.2%). Those who fish engaged in less deliberate self-harm (10.4% versus 20.6%) when compares to those that do not fish.

This research shows that recreational fishing could help those suffering from serious mental health problems. 


Lee Smith, Professor of Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) commented:



Lee continued with:

"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.”





The Anglia Ruskin study on Opportunities for Green Social Prescribing:



The study found that the 2 primary motivators for fishing were:

1. The Challenge of Fishing 
2. Going Fishing to Relax

There were no differences in motivators for fishing shown among anglers with disabilities compared to anglers without disabilities.

Results from a separate study by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), published in the International Journal for Environmental Research and Public Health, found that fishing participation is similar between anglers with disabilities and anglers without disabilities. This suggests the pastime is relatively accessible. However, some barriers to getting out fishing included: the costs, lack of transport, and lack of companions to fish with. These were more commonly reported by people with disabilities.


Lee Smith, Professor of Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), commented on the accessibility of fishing:

“Recreational fishing is very popular in the UK, with about 2 million people taking part in the pastime in 2019. Our published study found that it is an accessible sport, despite the presence of some barriers.” 


Improvements in the Mental Health Sector


This study by ARU can help mental health charities like Tackling Minds, which provides fishing as a form of therapy for clients.

In 2021, Tackling Minds was successful in its campaign for angling to be recognised as an official social prescribing activity on the NHS. This was thanks to fishing offering nature therapy, mental health solutions and well-being benefits. 

Tackling Minds’ founder, David Lyons, shared: 

"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’ve 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.”



How This Impacts Fishing:

This study is of course great news for anglers or those looking to get into fishing! As fishing enthusiasts, we are delighted that this recreational activity is helping with mental illness. It is a huge step in getting more people out and fishing and the studies of eco-therapy.


Andy Torrance, CEO of Angling Direct PLC stated: 



Fishing is Good!

If you're someone who's looking for a new way to relax those stress levels, then we highly recommend giving fishing a try. Swap urban environments for natural environments and spend the day in the great outdoors!

We recommend that you checkout out our Beginner's page for what fishing requires. You can also sign up for a Get Fishing event near you, found on the Angling Trust website. These events suggest great fishing spots along with fishing coaches.

If you are in the Greater Manchester area, Tackling Mind events helps those suffering from mental health. By taking you to green spaces, and giving you the tackle and fishing guidance needed in the process, Tackling Minds are helped lots of mental health survivors. Find out more on their website.



Next Steps for Fishing Easing Mental Health Issues:

The research found in this study by ARU on angling and mental health is currently being peer-reviewed ahead of scientific journal publication.

Peer-reviewed refers to the process of assessing the quality of a research paper. A research paper is assessed for originality, validity, and significance by independent researchers in the relevant field to determine if it should be published. As a result, the research is highly credible. 

If you are interested in reading the full thesis, the complete study on fishing health benefits has been submitted online, here. 


We will conclude with this statement from the head of Tackling Minds; David Lyons:



“This study is the first stage for opening the doors for more concentrated research on anglers and mental health. It will revolutionise angling and mental health as we know it, and it’s just the start.”

Notes to Editors

About Anglia Ruskin (ARU)

Ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The ARU is a global university transforming lives through innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial education and research.

ARU’s research institutes and four faculties bridge scientific, technical and creative fields.  We deliver impactful research which tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference in our communities.  Its academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 16 of our research areas assessed as world-leading.

ARU is the largest provider of Nursing, Midwifery, Health and Social Care students in England. They are among the UK’s leading universities for degree apprenticeship provision, working with hundreds of employers across the UK.

In 2021, Anglia Ruskin were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world-leading music therapy work.


About Tackling Minds

Tackling Minds was formed in 2020. It is now the UK’s leading provider of Mental Health and Wellbeing Angling events. They provide events for people suffering from Mental Health, Social Deprivation, Addiction and Recovery, Long Term Health Conditions and Disabilities.

Tackling Minds aims to provide a positive and distinctive contribution to people’s health and well being with participation in angling. Also by providing opportunities for people to flourish through the proven benefits of fishing.

In March 2021, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust began referring patients to Tackling minds as part of the first-ever Social Prescribing scheme involving Angling. As the scheme proved to be so successful, the initiative is now being rolled out nationally. Thousands of people are now benefitting through Social Prescribing Angling events.

Tackling Minds works closely with mental health organisations, the police, schools and Link Workers to provide a safe, supportive, accessible and affordable environment. In this community’s diverse population, clients can enjoy a range of cultural, educational, leisure and social activities.

Fishing is a great way to get some exercise, socialize, and relieve stress. Tackling Minds brings people together in a healthy, engaging environment that is essential for wellbeing and active ageing.


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