Fishing and Mental Health

Angling events within the UK can offers support to people from all walks of life that are struggling with a range of issues.

In 2022, Tackling Minds teamed up with Angling Direct and Anglia Ruskin University‘s Professor Lee Smith to research the relationship between recreational fishing and mental health in a sample of UK adults. 

The results from the study are now published, and have firmly established the links between fishing and improved mental and physical health. It surveyed approximately 1,900 UK adults online.

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

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

According to the study, the two primary motivators for fishing are:

  • The Challenges of Fishing
  • Relaxing

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

“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.”

Mental Health

What is Mental Health?

MentalHealth.Gov defines mental health as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

How Fishing Benefits Mental Health

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.

The 2022 study by ARU has further reinforced the importance of mental health charities like Tackling Minds, who provide fishing as a form of therapy for clients.

Social Deprivation

Define Social Deprivation

The American Psychological Association defines social deprivation as a “lack of adequate opportunity for social experience” meaning that you are experiencing loneliness and limited opportunities to socialise with other people, friends or family.

How Fishing Helps with Social Deprivation

Fishing provides opportunities for people to re-engage with society following illness, a period of inactivity, or for older age groups to participate in a sport in a safe, welcoming environment.


What is Addiction?

The NHS currently defines addiction as “not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you”. The most common addictions are to gambling, drugs, alcohol, and smoking, but any number of things can be addictive.

How Fishing Helps With Addiction

David Lyons, the founder of Tackling Minds has been open with his reasons why fishing helped with his addiction:

“I was in recovery from alcohol addiction, which I had struggled with for a number of years. During my periods of recovery I always found I struggled to occupy my mind. I became a little bit of a recluse and I wasn’t socialising. I decided to get some fishing gear and get back out there.”

Long Term Health Conditions

What are Long Term Health Conditions?

The Patients Association explains that a long-term condition is an illness that cannot be cured but can usually be controlled with medicines or other treatments such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, epilepsy, asthma and some mental health conditions.

How Fishing Helps With Long Term Health Conditions

Feeling low or unwell can lead to a lack of motivation, but sticking to a routine such as attending Tackling Mind fishing events or making plans to head to the bankside every week can really help to shift your low mood about your health as well as relieving pressure and giving back control of
your own time.


How Do You Define Disability?

In the UK, under the Equality Act 2010, disability is when you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

How Fishing Can Help With Disabilities and Mental Health

Your environment plays a huge part in how a disability can affect you. With many access-friendly fishing pegs at fishing venues, you can manage a physical impairment and find help with mental impairments thanks to many fishing events available across the UK. If your mental health suffers due to a disability, fishing creates a calm, welcoming environment that helps to manage your condition.

Family Turmoil

What is Family Turmoil?

Family Action defines family turmoil or struggles as the complex and difficult issues facing families today, including financial hardship, mental health problems, social isolation, learning disabilities, domestic abuse, or substance misuse and alcohol problems.

How Fishing Helps With Family Turmoil

Whether it is to help your own mental health due to family struggles or to relieve the impact of family life with family members, fishing is a past time for young or older family members to join your with. It creates time to bond, and an opportunity to focus on the challenge of angling. The eco-therapy that comes with fishing has a positive effect on everyone who participates, as well as those around them.

Useful Links

Tackling Minds would not be where it is today without the support of our volunteers, the community and businesses across the UK. This research project has been made possible by the support of Angling Direct and ARU; please see the links below to learn more about them.