Former Olympic training team member founds sailing initiative to tackle mental health issues


SAILING WELLNESS: Experienced sailor Simon Collyer

Simon Collyer, an experienced sailor and former member of the Olympic training team, has founded a new initiative called Sailing Wellness.

Simon, from Brightlingsea, Essex, is interested in PTSD and other mental health issues and wanted to use his sailing experience to help sufferers relieve their symptoms by getting involved in sailing.

He approached the International Stress Management Association (ISMA UK) as the leading professional body for work and personal stress management, to see if they could help publicize his project within their community and he got a very positive response.

Having sailed radio controlled (RC) boats in South Africa, Simon saw the potential of using RC boats to teach sailing to people with PTSD and other conditions in the UK.

He said: “The big advantage of sailing with RC boats is that the participants are kept ashore.

“On the water, people with PTSD are more likely to experience anxiety attacks due to sudden noise or movement, for example, if a helicopter is flying overhead.”

He continued, “Getting people afloat using RC boats requires a lot of focus from participants, rather than just being passengers or crew on a yacht.

“The Sailing Wellness Project aims to break the cycle of rumination in PTSD and other conditions, where people go back over and over to what went wrong on a continuous loop.

“It gets participants out of the house, mingles with others, and helps them feel like life isn’t over, despite major setbacks.”

Carole Spiers, President of ISMAUK, said: “We are delighted to support Simon in the development of his sailing wellness initiative.

“As the leading professional association for personal and professional stress management, we have been supporting mental health, wellbeing and performance for over 30 years.

“ISMAUK is dedicated to promoting knowledge and best practice in stress management, and projects such as Sailing Wellbeing will enable people with mental and stress-related disorders to participate in therapeutic activities to relieve and reduce their symptoms.

“Getting involved in sailing without being on the water is a great idea and I’m sure it will further the healing process for those affected.”


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