Pioneering surf therapy to combat mental health issues

Sam Davis and James Mallows are both serving Police officers who have long used surfing to support their wellbeing and career performance. Together, they had the idea to share it with colleagues and their pioneering pilot project is now flying high! Surf therapy is used around the world in military and charity sectors to huge effect, helping people who have felt beyond help from more traditional approaches. TeamPolice is really excited that both Sam and James will be appearing at our first webinar to inform attendees about their amazing project which is quite literally saving lives!

​​Surfwell is the first surf therapy model in the world to be formally trialed by the Police as an intervention for their staff struggling with mental health. It is now aspiring to deliver the same tremendous accomplishments for blue light services as have been seen in other sectors. Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police have already expanded the project to trial the inclusion of other emergency partners such as the South Western Ambulance Service, Cornwall fire and the Fire Fighter’s charity. Following an initial proof of concept trial period, early findings by an Independent Research Team from Exeter University indicate that the therapy shows an overwhelming level of improvement among most of the participants with examples of significant changes in mental health!

James Mallow said: “The job carries many different pressures and stresses, and not dealing with those at the time can cause a cumulative build-up and suddenly you’re overwhelmed by it. It’s a real mentality in the police, and in the military, that we’re always running towards danger. The perception amongst many members of staff is that if you’re having a bad day (from a professional point of view) you can’t deal with your family and then talk about what you’ve just seen 10 minutes ago. It could be the most horrific thing you’ve ever seen in your life, but you can’t really talk about that to your family. A lot of issues then get bottled up, and that can be a really damaging way of dealing with stuff.”

“I think anyone who surfs knows it works to help switch off. It’s a really beautiful place to go, you get an endorphin rush, you can go surfing in a group or on your own – there are loads of different benefits to it. I think the key, certainly for what we’re doing, is if you’re new to the sport it’s all a massive rush at the same time. It’s overcoming a big barrier for some people getting into the water, it’s all those things combined into one. A lot of people get it from going for a run or a walk, or sitting with a group of people; surfing combines absolutely every element of the good stuff. It really works for people.

We aim to capitalise on the proven mental and physical benefits and apply psychological tools to ensure that we can achieve the aim of supporting staff back to work and providing positive coping strategies for use in personal and professional lives.”

Please join the conversation on 13th October at 4pm to find out more about this amazing project.

The only reason I have not left the Police is down to the support I found through Surfwell.

Surfwell participant

Opening up
Opening up