A group of nine young people recovering from psychosis spent six days crewing a sailing boat as part of their recovery.
The young people have been receiving support from the Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) service at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a provider of mental health and disability services.
The sailing trip from Peterhead, Scotland to Hartlepool was part of The Voyage to Recovery project, a form of adventure therapy run in partnership with Cirdan Sailing Trust.
The project aims to support people recovering from mental illness by providing an alternative environment for them to learn new skills, build relationships and grow confidence.
Reflecting on the voyage, the young people said the most important part of the trip was the opportunity for self-development and to learn about themselves as well as their fellow crew members.
One of the young people said: “I felt accepted on the boat, like I could be myself the whole time.
“I always worry that I am going to say the wrong thing and if people will like me, but on the boat, everyone had a story to share. Hearing these stories helped me to accept what I’ve been through.”
The young people were joined by five staff members from the EIP service at CNTW.
Terry Haley, a senior peer supporter in the EIP service, was part of the sailing crew.
I think these experiences are really important for people who have had a first episode of psychosis. They need to know that there are other people out there who are going through this too and they’re not alone.Terry HaleySenior peer supporter, CNTW
Terry says: “There is still a huge stigma around mental illness so the project is a great opportunity to show what young people recovering from psychosis can achieve when given the chance.
“All of the young people gained so much from the voyage. They quickly formed close friendships, learnt to trust each other and openly talked about the challenges they’ve faced.
“I think these experiences are really important for people who have had a first episode of psychosis. They need to know that there are other people out there who are going through this too and they’re not alone.
The team spent the full six days at sea, eating and sleeping on The Faramir.
They were responsible for all the tasks on board, including navigation, cooking meals, steering the boat and putting the sails up, with guidance from three professional crew members.
At the end of the trip, the team received a qualification from the Royal Yachting Association. Three of the young people were awarded advanced certificates after impressing the professional crew with the sailing knowledge and skills they gained during the trip.
Adventure therapy is in a league of its own. It helps you to better understand and overcome the challenges you’re facing. Plus, being on a boat is just mint!Feedback from young person
When asked if they would recommend the voyage to others, one of the young people said: “Absolutely, adventure therapy is in a league of its own. It helps you to better understand and overcome the challenges you’re facing. Plus, being on a boat is just mint!”
The Trust is hoping more of their service users will be involved in next year’s voyage.