Recreational fishing has been found to have positive impacts on mental health, according to a groundbreaking study conducted by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), UK charity Tackling Minds, and European retailer Angling Direct Plc. The study surveyed 1,900 UK adults and found that individuals who participated in recreational fishing were less likely to report anxiety disorders, attempt suicide, or engage in deliberate self-harm than those who did not fish. Specifically, 16.5% of recreational anglers reported anxiety disorder, compared to 26.4% of non-anglers; 7.5% of recreational anglers attempted suicide, compared to 13.2% of non-anglers; and 10.4% of recreational anglers engaged in deliberate self-harm, compared to 20.6% of non-anglers.
The study also found that fishing was accessible to people with disabilities, with no significant difference in motivators for fishing among anglers with disabilities compared to those without. However, individuals with disabilities reported more barriers to participation, such as costs, lack of transport, or lack of companions to fish with.
In recognition of its mental health benefits, Tackling Minds successfully campaigned for angling to be recognized as an official social prescribing activity in the UK's National Health Service (NHS) in 2021. The study's findings suggest that encouraging participation in fishing could be a dual-method strategy for promoting relaxation, good mental health, and physical activity among individuals with mental health issues such as anxiety disorder.
Andy Torrance, CEO of Angling Direct, expressed excitement about the potential implications of the study for public health interventions and social prescribing. The research is currently being peer-reviewed for scientific journal publication.
The full study on accessibility can be accessed here: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/8/4730.