ANGLING'S huge benefits in reducing human stress and improving mental health problems have come to the fore.

Stress beating qualities of being by the water fishing have come more to the public’s attention in the past year.

Most notably, the hugely-popular BBC TV series, Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, has shown other sides to angling.

So much so, that a third series starring Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse is being filmed and edited.

Both popular comedians have used fishing to combat heart and stress issues, boosting their health and well-being.

More non-anglers are now, finally, understanding how relaxing it can be to be by the water, fishing.

There has also been pioneering work  with groups of individuals with mental health or stress issues, including some armed forces veterans being taken out fishing.

But there is still much work to be done, and funding that is badly needed, as Angler’s Mail has been finding out…

Mortimer and Whitehouse are back with their winning formula. Pic: Owl Power.

Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse have proved a huge hit on TV. They have profiled the many benefits of angling in a new light… to new audiences.

Stress Awareness work

Top female angler Marina Gibson showcased the powers of fishing to combat stress to mark the recent International Stress Awareness Week.

The fly fishing guide, who has experienced sexism while fishing, taught aspiring anglers at London’s Syon Park.

Marina was keen to replay the benefits everyone – male or female, young or old – can get from particpating in the sport.

Marina, founder of the Northern Fishing School, said: “Fishing has long been heralded as a great source of therapy and it demonstrates how fishing or anything meditative allows you to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

“It clears your mind by focusing on the beautiful surroundings as well as the art and technique of exercise and keeping your mind busy with an art form.

“It was a real privilege to host these fabulous people at Syon Park, which will always hold a special place in my heart.

“When I was living in London and found the stresses of everyday life all too much, I found this safe haven within the city at Syon Park.

“It allowed me to escape stress-filled environments and recuperate within a tranquil setting,” added Marina.

There was a strong female presence at the event, with Marina having long advocated for more women to get into the sport. She was inspired herself to take up fishing by her mother.

Fishing without stress - action at the park lake event.

Fishing without stress – action at the park lake event.

Mental health benefits – the future

Clive Copeland, head of participation at the Angling Trust, has also been explaining how lives can be changed for the better through fishing.

Clive told Angler’s Mail: “We are acutely aware of how beneficial angling can be for helping people with mental health difficulties, but it is quite hard to be able to produce hard evidence to convince funders to pay for projects.

“The Environment Agency’s 25 year strategy for angling has a detailed chapter about its commitment to this.

“Three years ago we helped set up a pilot project with Derbyshire Healthcare and Earl of Hartington AC called Angling 4 Health that helped people with mental health problems.

“We had hoped at the time that we might be able to roll it out as a national programme but sadly the funding wasn’t available at the time.

“We are also currently working with a new charity in Hampshire which is hoping to help mental health patients through fishing.

“We did a major survey of 9,000 anglers recently and one of the findings was that 34 per cent of them already have long-term health issues.

“This shows how much mileage there is in promoting the beneficial benefits of angling,” Clive concluded.

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