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Independent medical study confirms significant health benefits of the Deptherapy Scuba Diving Programme

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An independent Service Evaluation Study by the University of Sheffield Medical School has recorded a significant improvement in the general wellbeing and mental health of military veterans who have completed the PADI Deptherapy programme.

Fifteen ex-Service personnel took part in the ground-breaking study by medical students from November to December 2016. Each of the 15 participants had experienced a variety of physical injuries as a result of combat and some had recorded an additional diagnosis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The study was originally conceived by Hannah Higgins, a fourth-year Sheffield medical student, who is also Miss Scuba UK 2017.

Participants were surveyed for the study using the established General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and semi-structured personal interviews. Family members and health professionals who had observed the diving programme were also interviewed.

90% of those surveyed reported improvements in their general wellbeing and mental health, which were attributed, at least in part, to their participation in the Deptherapy programme. 60% of those surveyed reported an overall improvement in psychosocial wellbeing, most notably relating to anxiety levels, insomnia and depression. The study generated an 87% response rate.

The study concluded that the Deptherapy Scuba Diving programme can offer significant therapeutic benefits for ex-Service personnel experiencing anxiety and PTSD, notably in terms of alleviating social dysfunction and symptoms of depression. The study additionally found that scuba diving enables those with severe physical impairment to perform alongside, and in the same manner as, an able-bodied person thus bolstering self-confidence and self-esteem.

Until now, medical research into scuba diving as a prospective therapy for injury and disability has been very limited. This study, therefore, offers both considerable insight into the potential of scuba diving as a therapeutic aid, as well as independent validation of the actual benefits of the Deptherapy Scuba Diving programme for its members.

Dr Richard Castle, Vice President of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education commented on the study:

“This has been an important and innovative piece of research which has demonstrated that the Deptherapy programme offers significant therapeutic benefits for ex-Service personnel, particularly for those experiencing anxiety, depression and PTSD.”

As well as documenting the therapeutic benefits of the Deptherapy programme, the study also highlighted areas of potential enhancement, for instance in evolving a peer support scheme. The Deptherapy Buddy Peer Support Scheme, trialled last summer, has now been launched this January with the aim of providing an additional support mechanism for programme members.

Gary Green

PADI Ambassadiver, Deptherapy Board Member and Trustee Gary Green knows first hand the very real benefits of the Deptherapy programme. The former Rifleman was injured by two exploding IEDs whilst on tour in Afghanistan in 2009, resulting in him losing the sight in one eye and a lengthy battle with acute PTSD.

Gary joined Deptherapy in 2015 and is now training to become a PADI DiveMaster. He explained the positive effect the programme has had on his life:

“Deptherapy has been a support for my growth. When I first got in contact with the charity I believed I would be labelled as PTSD for the rest of my life. Underwater I found a peace of mind and a realisation that PTSD does not have to define me. Underwater I did not have PTSD and this feeling has stayed with me from the point my head went under the blue until this very day. Diving has healed me.”

For more information about the University of Sheffield study and the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education visit www.deptherapy.co.uk.

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Western Ecology Tour: Notes from the Field – Scotland

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Scubaverse blogger, Donovan Lewis, is currently on the Western Ecology Tour. The aim of the expedition is to travel to the northern reaches of Scotland, along the West Coast to the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales, and finally onto Pembrokeshire, diving the best the west has to offer. The expedition is looking to live life in a minimalist way, camping and cooking out in the open air.

The teams aim is not just to dive sites, but to tackle conservation issues and shed light on projects up and down the UK, they have three projects which the trip will be focusing on. These projects include the Shark & Skate Citizen Science Scotland, Project Seagrass, and Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners (NARC). The team will be accompanied with a Biologist or expert that works on each of the 3 projects to aid and guide the team, but also help shed extra light on the critical conservation work being carried out.


Here are Donovan’s notes from the first leg of the trip:

The time has come for the Western Ecology Tour, I’m going to be giving you updates throughout the expedition. It’s been an amazing first two days up here in the Highlands of Scotland. The first day we dived Loch Duich, where we did 3 dives. We dived on local dive sites lead by members of Shark & Skate Citizen Science Scotland. Our first site,next to the Ratagan Youth Hostel, was a slope with a muddy bottom absolutely covered in life, including squat lobsters, brittlestars and anemones.

Our second dive was at a site unfortunately known as the Rubbish Dump, an area that was littered with trash such as bottles, plates, fishing line and quite literally bags of bones. The third dive was at School Bay, a bay with a school in it, this was a thick muddy bottomed dive site that was covered with sea pens, fireworks anemones, and scorpionfish.

The second day we dived in Loch Carron, where we dived Conservation Bay it was a light drift dive on a wall covered in dead man’s fingers and kelp. The second dive was in Castle Bay which started in a Bay with a castle at the top of a cliff, this was again another draft dive with walls covered in Dead Man’s Fingers that ended at the end of a slipway and a flat sandy seabed, which littered with flatfish, crabs, gobies and decorator crabs.

This is a quick blog on what we’ve seen, however at the end of our trip keep your eyes out for an Expedition Report about what we saw and experienced.


If you’d like any further information and to keep up to date with Expedition Western Ecology Tour check out the webpage https://andythenortherndiver.com/expedition-wet/

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Marine Life & Conservation

Ghost Fishing UK clean up at the Plastic Free Awards

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The ocean conservation charity Ghost Fishing UK has netted the ‘Best Plastic Campaign’ prize at the ‘Plastic free Awards 2021’ for their voluntary work cleaning up our oceans of lost fishing gear.

It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of lost fishing gear or ‘ghost gear’ is lost into our oceans each year. Modern fishing gear is primarily made of plastics and not only continues catching and killing wildlife once it has been lost, but leaves a legacy issue of broken down plastic circulating in our oceans. These fragments known as microplastics can be ingested by animals and ultimately end up in our food chain.

The Plastic Free Awards returned for their second year to celebrate those making the biggest waves in the fight against plastic pollution. The awards are a unique opportunity to recognise the achievements of campaigners, innovators, small businesses and communities across the UK leading the charge on plastic.

Partnering with Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, the awards are designed to bring together environmental champions and leaders of the plastic free movement. With 12 award categories covering all areas from Best Plastic Campaign to Youth Activist Award, anyone can be nominated; yourself, a friend, family member, school, community, or business – anyone you think is a plastic free hero. Shortlisted nominees are chosen by a panel of expert judges.

Volunteer divers from the charity Ghost Fishing UK are carefully selected to survey and recover lost fishing gear which is reported through their website. Both divers and fishermen are invited to report fishing gear losses so the team can recover them, stopping the cycle of death and pollution in its tracks.

The materials are then stored until they reach sufficient quantities to be recycled into various items, including plant pots.

Operations Officer and trustee for the charity Fred Nunn is based in Cornwall and said: “It’s so humbling to be recognised by the community when there are so, so many others all doing truly amazing things all towards a common goal.”

Scuba divers who make the grade are put through an intensive training course over three days to prepare them for dealing with ghost nets. The job underwater can be dangerous, often with poor visibility, hard physical work and the ever present risk of the divers becoming entangled in the nets themselves.

On the day of the awards ceremony, many of the divers missed the event as they were finishing up a project in Brighton to remove a huge net form the wreck of the Cairndhu, operating from Channel Diver. They were assisted by a trawling vessel who heard the team were in the area and offered to help, using his fishing boat to haul the net on board. The fishermen are hoping to be able to repair and re-use the net depending on how badly it has been damaged whilst entangled in the wreck. If not, the net will be sent for recycling.

Trustee Christine Grosart said: “Today was a fantastic day! It was brilliant to have a trawling vessel offer assistance to our mission to get the net off the Cairndhu but to go on and win this award in the evening was the cherry on the cake.

Many people think we do this for a living but we don’t – we all have day jobs, families and normal lives to work around. It takes special individuals to give up what free time and cash they have spare to this cause and that is why they are so deserving of this award.

I was watching the awards from the middle of the Danish north sea on board a sat diving vessel and they could hear me shrieking from the Bridge!”

Chair Dr Richard Walker was also out on Channel Diver, photographing the day’s mission as it unfolded. He was travelling home when the winners were announced: “To actually win this award means more to me than you can imagine. It means that I can publicly thank all of our dedicated volunteers, who scuba dive to recover lost fishing nets from the reefs and shipwrecks around the United Kingdom and the huge contribution that our divers make in keeping the projects happening.

I can praise our instructors who teach our divers how to be safe and effective on our projects and show my appreciation to our committee who look after our administration, who send our message to the public, who make links with the fishing community and other groups.”

 Ghost Fishing UK this weekend is rolling out a new reporting system dedicated to fishermen and fishing vessels to be able to report lost fishing gear anonymously. The charity is very keen to work with the fishing community in harmony to help solve the problem of ghost fishing by getting accidentally lost gear out of the sea as soon as possible.

To report lost fishing gear, please head to the charity’s website: www.ghostfishing.co.uk/report

If you are a fisherman and know of any lost fishing gear, please report it anonymously here:

Ghost Fishing UK – Fishing Community Reporting Form

Richard Walker said “I want to thank each and every one of the Ghost Fishing UK team, and all of our supporters. They are all a key part of the job to reduce our dependence on plastics and preventing it from getting into our beautiful oceans.

And finally, a big thank you to the Surfers Against Sewage and the Plastic Free Awards for this prestigious award.”

For more information about Ghost Fishing UK visit their website by clicking here.

Header image: Richard Walker

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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