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Mental health patients find fishing rewarding

September 30, 2011 3:03 PM

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Mental health patients from Dykebar who take part in the hospital’s fishing therapy programme have been collecting awards at the hospital’s annual fishing awards.

All the patients who take part in the programme were rewarded with a prize at the event which took place in Dykebar Hospital earlier this week covering categories such as heaviest fish; best beginner; heaviest bag trophy (the heaviest bag of fish overall caught in one day); heaviest season total and fish of the season.

Fishing is known for its calming and therapeutic benefits and this popular pastime is proving to be a winner with mental health patients in Greater Glasgow and Clyde with both Dykebar and Leverndale Hospitals offering the pastimes to patients. 

The idea came about due to staff at the two hospitals hit upon the idea of fishing therapy based on their own love of the sport. 

Nursing assistants David Potter and Mark Aitchison from Dykebar run the programme and organised the small awards ceremony. 

Mark Potter explained:  “We couldn’t do it without the support of a lot of our managers who allow us to take the time to organise the fishing trips and spend time with the patients. 

“With David and I working together, we are able to keep the programme going and enjoy the sport as well as organise wee events like this so all the patients can feel involved and be rewarded for taking part.” 

Senior charge nurse Caroline Burling who gave out the prizes at the awards ceremony said:  “The fishing programme has proved to be very therapeutic and helps patients get away from their frustrations and just be themselves.

“It’s been a team effort to get the programme up and going but it is something that the patients and staff really look forward to doing now.  It can be stressful for staff when you are taking patients out of the ward but Mark and David cope really well and seem to enjoy it.

“It’s good to be able to leave them to get on with it and they only need me when we need some more fishing equipment.  We are very lucky that we have the support of other managers to allow staff out of the wards to cover this but I think that’s because we all know what a rewarding programme this is.”


Mark and David take the patients fishing in small groups of two or three once a week.  The patients have learnt new life skills and experienced new and exhilarating challenges which have resulted in a real sense of personal achievement in them all.

David said: “We always go to the same fishery - The New Haylie Loch in Largs- and we’ve developed a great relationship with the owner.  He now reserves us a really good spot and helps the group set up their lines and rods.

“Part of the project was to encourage social integration and reduce barriers and it has been so rewarding to see this happen.  Aside from the input of the fishery owner regular anglers have also time and time again displayed acceptance of the group and encouraged integration and inclusion. It’s been a really inspiring journey.”

Calum MacLeod, NHSGGC Head of Mental Health, said; “We are tremendously proud of what the teams at both hospitals have achieved.  Everyone, including our patients, are incredibly motivated and the resultant benefit to the patient’s health and wellbeing has been fantastic.

“The fishing programme is a very positive step in reducing feelings of isolation and improving the quality of life for this group of patients.”

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For more information contact  NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications tel:  0141 201 4429 or email:  [email protected]

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