Shropshire’s Early Intervention in Psychosis team takes service users on a Voyage to Recovery page thumbnail

The Early Intervention in Psychosis service (EIPS) for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin hope to set sail on a Voyage to Recovery with the young people they support.

EIPS work with young people who have had a first episode of psychosis. This vulnerable group are hard to engage in mainstream services and are at high risk of developing long term mental health problems.

Voyage to Recovery will see young people and members of the EIPS become the crew of a sailing boat, sailing the coast of Wales for six days and nights. A form of adventure therapy, it helps people with mental health conditions by providing opportunities to experience themselves and others differently, away from their ‘normal’ environment, in which their problems are embedded and maintained.

In 2021, nine EIPS from across the UK took part in a Voyage to Recovery around the coasts of the UK, collectively sailing 1700 miles over 8 weeks. One of the participants said of the experience: “I can’t swim, I hate water and I hate boats. I got really anxious, but I thought let’s go for it, ride the wave. I’ve got no fears really out there, once I’m seeing all of my anxieties go, I’m just surrounded by all blue. I like the peace that you get out there.

“Yesterday I had a bit of an episode and it would have been easy for me to run away. But I thought no, I’m going to fight through it, I’m going to persevere and I’m really glad I did to be honest, I’ve got a real feeling of self-worth. I’m starting to look at things in a different perspective.”

Christine Pybus, a Senior Early Intervention Practitioner with Midlands Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, who run the EIPS, explains: “Adventure therapy aims to nurture personal growth by offering novelty, excitement and engaging activities, ideally in beautiful natural environments, with active support. It offers new challenges and adversities, which can usually be overcome through resilience, shared effort and mutual support.

“The experience of coping with new and potentially scary situations as part of a group is potent in developing a sense of personal competence and social connection. For young people who struggle to engage in more conventional therapies, it provides opportunities to talk through difficulties with an external focus in activity, which takes some of the pressure off the interaction.

“Voyage to Recovery offers a truly life changing opportunity for our service users. It offers a total environmental shift, living at sea on a sailing boat, away from the land and its associated stressors.”

The Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin EIPS plan to set sail on 7th May and hope to raise enough funds to offer this remarkable intervention to a number of their service users. The team have set up a Just Giving page:

The effect that the 2021 voyage had on members of the North Wales group can be seen in this film: