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.