‘Get On Board’ Campaign Helps Americans Find Mental Health On The Water


As sections of the country move–cautiously, we hope–to the next phases of returning to “normal” activities, mental well-being is more important than ever. Stay-at-home and other social distancing restrictions have had a measurable effect on stress levels, and Americans have worked to find ways to unwind.

Enter the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, and its Discover Boating program, aimed at helping get people in the water and experiencing the fun of boating. RBFF has launched a new public service campaign called Get On Board to raise awareness about the wellness benefits of fishing and boating.

Pexels/Brett Sayles

“Fishing isn’t just about the fish,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for RBFF. “People have long turned to fishing and boating for stress relief. Given the uncertainty in today’s world, there’s something uniquely appealing about the calming effect of the water. For many people, fishing and boating are lifelines to mental health and wellness.”

Data from a current special report from RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation suggests that “relaxing and unwinding” is the No. 1 experience associated with fishing. The report also found that nearly 1 in 3 participants said the best thing about the activity is “getting away from the usual demands of life.” Further, the report notes that interest in fishing and boating has continued to grow amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent poll, 1 in 5 Americans said they’re more likely now to try the activities than they were prior to the pandemic. Among parents, the statistic is 1 in 4.

Unsplash/Ben Wilkins

“The outdoors is a welcome remedy to stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Sue Varma, a nationally recognized psychiatrist partnering with Take Me Fishing. “Being in nature supports each of the four ‘M’s of mental health: mindfulness, mastery, meaningful engagement and movement. Fishing in particular encourages mindfulness by helping you get away from distractions, it supports mastery by teaching you a new skill, it provides meaningful engagement through quality time with others you may be quarantining with, and it promotes physical movement by getting you outside without requiring a strenuous workout. Looking at fishing from a psychiatrist’s perspective, it’s a smart way to follow social distancing guidelines while prioritizing your health and wellness.”

Wikimedia Commons/Casey LeFever

Those interested in joining the Get On Board movement can visit www.TakeMeFishing.org/GetOnBoard or www.DiscoverBoating.com and use the social media hashtag #TheWaterIsOpen. Website resources include how-to guides for getting started fishing and boating, an interactive map of places to fish as well as local water-access updates to help people recreate responsibly.

“Whoever you are, we could all use a little encouragement right now,” said Vatalaro. “Whether you’re experienced at fishing and boating or a complete newcomer, now’s a great time to gear up, get out and leave worry in your wake. The water is open to everyone, and we’re all invited to heed the call and Get On Board.”

Avatar for Jerry Milani
Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 25 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for Wizard World, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at jerry (at) jerrymilani (dot) com.