The issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst the veteran community is extensive. According to the National Center for PTSD, between 11 – 20% of military personnel who served in Iraq suffer from PTSD, whilst it is estimated that 30% of veterans of the Vietnam War will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lifetime too. However, according to a recent study, fishing has shown to benefit veterans with PTSD in their rehabilitation process.

In order to better understand how recreational fishing can help alleviate symptoms of PTSD this Veterans Day, Fishbrain – the world’s most popular app and social network for anglers – has partnered with veteran fishing charity Mission FISH to conduct a study into how fishing plays an important role in the emotional rehabilitation of thousands of veterans, providing an alternative to conventional medical treatment.

Asking over 1000 members of Mission Fish’s user base, Fishbrain has found that both fishing, and involvement in fishing-related social media channels, positively affect mental wellbeing amongst veterans, active duty service members, 1st responders, and Gold Star families.

Each Mission FISH member who took part in the study has been offered a free trial of Fishbrain’s Pro subscription service.

Key findings include:

  • 84% of respondents said their important relationships were better a day of fishing
  • 66% of respondents go into a day of fishing for therapeutic reasons
  • 94% of respondents found that sharing their experience with others improved their fishing experience
  • 53% of respondents find the experience therapeutic

Lisa Kennelly, Chief Marketing Officer at Fishbrain, comments: “Fishing is becoming an increasingly understood and widely used means of treatment, especially amongst the military community. What seems to be especially beneficial to those suffering from PTSD symptoms is the use of both in-person and online support channels facilitated by organizations like Mission FISH and Fishbrain. With conventional treatments still often falling short, fishing has the capacity to play a key role in the rehabilitation of veterans moving forward.”

Extended findings

  • On what best describes why they originally decided to take up fishing
    • I was introduced by a friend or family member: 67%
    • I wanted to try a new hobby: 9%
    • I had been advised to for health reasons: 3%
  • On what typically describes their general emotional state while fishing
    • Relaxed: 88%
    • Happy: 84%
    • Focused: 50%
    • Content: 44%
    • Frustrated: 3%
    • Anxious: 3%
  • On whether their emotional state changes if they do or don’t catch any fish:
    • My mood is not impacted by my fishing behavior: 56%
    • My mood is better: 38%
    • My mood is worse: 6%
  • On whether they typically detect a change in their important relationships after fishing:
    • My relationships are better: 84%
    • My relationships are not impacted by my fishing behavior: 15%
    • My relationships are worse: None
  • On whether sharing their catches/experiences of fishing with others increases their enjoyment of fishing:
    • Yes: 94%
    • No: 6%
  • On whether connecting through online channels and social media is an effective way of sharing about your fishing experiences:
    • Yes: 81%
    • No: 19%
  • On what they most like to share about their fishing experiences when connecting through online channels:
    • Catches: 66%
    • Scenic views: 50%
    • Comment on others photos: 31%
    • Fishing locations: 22%
    • Bait/equipment: 22%
    • All of the above: 34%
  • On how sharing experiences with online groups compare with sharing those experiences in person:
    • Sharing with online groups is good, but not better: 53%
    • Sharing with online groups is better: 16%
    • Sharing with online groups is worse: 16%
    • I’m not sure: 16%
  • On whether the frequency of their fishing behavior changed since the start of the pandemic
    • It has decreased: 56%
    • It has increased: 34%
    • It has not changed: 9%
  • On how sharing in online communities about their fishing experiences allows them to connect with people who they may not connect with otherwise:
    • Yes: 81%
    • No: 19%
  • On whether engagement in online communities about fishing impacts their fishing behavior:
    • Yes: 53%
    • No: 47%
  • On how engagement in online communities about fishing impacts their fishing behavior:
    • It increases how often I go fishing: 59%
    • It causes me to more frequently go fishing with other people, rather than alone: 53%
    • It influences where I choose to go fishing: 53%
    • It influences what gear I choose to use while fishing: 29%
  • On what they expect to get out of a day of fishing:
    • Rest and Relaxation: 84%
    • Therapy: 66%
    • Fishing Knowledge: 50%
    • Nothing: 3%
  • On how they would you rate the overall experience of a days fishing:
    • Therapeutic: 53%
    • Relaxing: 31%
    • Fun: 16%

About Fishbrain

Fishbrain is the world’s most popular mobile app, marketplace and social network for people who love fishing. Depended upon by more than 13 million users across the globe, Fishbrain helps create the best possible fishing experience by providing everyone – whether beginner or pro – with the tools, insights, and support to fully enjoy the world’s most popular hobby. The app’s in-app and on-web marketplace, Fishbrain Shop, allows users to find and purchase the best fishing gear from some of the world’s most respected brands. Fishbrain’s interactive map helps anglers find hot new fishing spots and see what other people are catching, with what bait and specifically where. With other features like Fish Species Recognition, marine mapping (provided by C-MAP), forecasts, bait recommendations and more, Fishbrain has become one of the most valuable and rewarding tools in a fisherman’s tackle box. Fishbrain values responsible fishing, supporting a catch and release approach and the sustainable harvest of fish species, as well as the tracking of rare and endangered species through a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Wildlife Commission.

About Mission FISH

The Purpose of Mission FISH is fishing, interacting, sharing, and healing. Mission FISH organizes and plans fishing day trips and provides FISH therapy for PTSD and TBI for Veterans, Active duty service members, 1st responders and Gold Star families. Studies have shown that Fishing has mental health benefits; being in nature can improve your mood and also has positive long term effects on depression and memory. Mission FISH brings together participants who could be in need of interacting with others while sharing a day together, building friendships and self-esteem.