Four Leicestershire adults with mental health illness learnt new ways to cope during a week-long sailing trip.
The quartet developed team-building and planning skills, as well as basic seamanship, as they crewed a 23-metre yacht on part of its Voyage to Recovery earlier this spring.
The quartet were accompanied by three staff from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, and joined with a similar group of novices from another part of the country, and a training staff of three.
Anya Vidion, a senior care coordinator for LPT, said: “It definitely wasn’t all plain sailing, bits were quite challenging. There was a lot of seasickness, the sea was quite choppy.
“People who were initially struggling to get out of bed by the end of the week you could see a difference – they were more confident in putting themselves forward, and supporting and helping each other out.”
The sailors had to take turns raising and lowering sails, cooking, cleaning, and helping to ensure the boat was safe. This included getting up in the middle of the night to keep a watch as the boat made its way between Ipswich and Gosport, near Portsmouth.
Some of them whose cooking skills were previously confined to heating a microwave meal found themselves having to plan a pots-and-pans meal for 17, and had to make it while the boat was leaning over in a strong wind. People feeling scared on deck at the beginning of the week, were up at the bow keeping look out or confidently taking the wheel by day three.
Anya said: “They were definite that it had been a really positive experience for them. It was really outstanding to see.”
The four service users all had had episodes of psychosis. Adventure therapy aims to treat this by uses a challenging and unfamiliar environment such as sailing to create an intense physical demand, new social interactions, and the learning of new skills.
One of them said: “I learned I can face my fears”. Another added: “I found that if you give people a chance they can be really nice!”
Another LPT-organised group of psychosis patients took part in a similar sailing adventure in 2021, and there was a further hiking weekend in the Peak District last year.
Anya said one of her patients demonstrated long-term benefits from one of the earlier trips.
“He is much more able to engage in things that he wasn’t able to before as a result of the hiking trip and work we have done with him since.”
The boat was provided by the Cirdan Sailing Trust. The trip was funded by the Leicester-based Carlton Hayes Mental Health Charity, with funds distributed on their behalf by LPT’s in-house charity Raising Health.
Carolyn Pascoe, LPT’s Raising Health fundraising manager, said: “This is an example of the added extras which we can offer some patients through charitable funds which enhance their quality of life, and complement their treatment.”
To donate to LPT’s Raising Health charity, please visit https://www.raisinghealth.org.uk/donate/donate .