FISHING is now being used as a therapy for mental health patients in Scottish hospitals.

Nursing staff from two NHS mental health hospitals in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Leverndale and Dykebar, hit upon the idea and are now taking patients out fishing to help calm them.

John Kelly, a nursing assistant from Leverndale, said: “We find angling extremely therapeutic and thought that some of our patients would really benefit from it.

“We wanted to do something for them that would improve their quality of life and provide a change to their everyday routine.

“We had brilliant feedback from our managers who were quick to help us establish a plan – the results have surpassed all our hopes. The patients love it so much even the wind and rain hasn’t put them off.”

Staff take groups of eight to 10 patients fishing and teach them the basics of angling.

The aim of the exercise is to give patients a new life skill while challenging them and creating a sense of personal achievement.

Kelly added: “Patients using the service are on the long-term ward and for some it might be the only time they get out and about.”

Calum MacLeod, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde 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.”


Stephen Erskine is a long-term patient in Leverndale Hospital where he is being treated for mental health problems.

The 44-year-old takes part in the fishing scheme run by John Kelly, who says Stephen’s confidence has improved since starting to fish and is now taking the initiative when out at New Haylie Loch, near Largs, and showing other patients how to cast.

Stephen, from Pollok in Glasgow, said: “It’s great fun going out with the nurses. It’s a good sense of achievement when we catch fish – we caught 10 last time – and nice to get out to get some fresh air. It’s a very calming and relaxing thing to do and I feel a lot of pride in taking part.”

Kelly added: “Stephen had never fished before but now he’s a great help. I used to have to set up all the rods and keep a close eye on them but now Stephen has partly taken over that role.

“Stephen has gone from no skills at all to 100% fishing on his own, it’s a massive achievement.”