Cornwall has always been admired for its beautiful landscape and wide, open coastlines. So it comes as no surprise that a Cornwall-based charity, Sea Sanctuary, is using the calming nature of the British coast to help people suffering from a range of mental health issues.

Founded by Joseph Sabien in 2006, the charity offers two main services.

The ‘Sail into Life’ programme offers a 3-4 day sail around Falmouth and the Carrick Roads on the vessel Fire Dancer, whilst the on-land Water’s Edge facility offers complimentary creative mental health offerings, such as art workshops and process group therapy. Both of these services utilise the serene Cornish landscape to aid in the healing process.

Sea Sanctuary was the first NHS Commissioned Charity for psychological support. They were also the first such service to operate in European waters, and are perhaps also unique worldwide too.

Aboard the Fire Dancer, participants are able to develop a ‘toolbox’ of mental coping and well-being tools to use back on land in everyday life, aided by a therapist/first mate. Against the backdrop of the ocean and Cornish landscape participants are able to gain clarity and hopefully the inner peace to work through mental health issues, along with professional support. Sea Sanctuary also organises fundraising activities through schools and holds ‘Anchor University’ campus fundraising events, with Students from the top fundraising university going into a prize draw and the winners being offered a day sail or activity day.

A recent review of the work indicated that: ‘84% of those accessing Sea Sanctuary had an improved sense of wellbeing, were better able to manage their symptoms of anxiety and depression, and had a more positive outlook.’

The work at Sea Sanctuary can be seen as part of the growing movement known as ‘Blue Mind’, centred around the sense of calm and peace we experience when in proximity to the sea. Whilst only a recent and incipient movement, the potential healing power of our seascapes can be evidenced by the feedback for the work at Sea Sanctuary. According to the testimonial of one Sea Sanctuary client, ‘The programme has had immeasurable benefits in ways that I cannot quantify. I don’t know how it works but it just does! The challenges of new activities have helped me to realise that things can change, and I have the power to change them.’

Recently, Sea Sanctuary has expanded to a new project, The Arc, a floating wellbeing centre which will be situated in the South West of England. It may prove that coastlines across Britain are an untapped resource for helping to alleviate mental health problems up and down the country.

More information about the services provided can be found on their website.

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Rob studies at Cass Business School and enjoys reading, writing and bringing little, hopeful stories to light.

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