Patients and staff from local psychosis service to set sail on a ‘Voyage of Recovery’ this month

A group of 10 young people, currently receiving support from specialist Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, are to embark on a once in a lifetime sailing voyage.

Part of a national project, the ‘Voyage of Recovery’ is run in collaboration with the Cirdan Sailing Trust. For one week a group of service users from Sussex Partnership’s Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) service will become part of the crew, taking an active part in life on board above and below deck.

Joined by five staff from the service, the group will board the sailing boat Faramir at Poole Harbour on Saturday 25 September, sail around the Hampshire and Sussex coasts, finishing their journey at Portsmouth on Wednesday 29 September.

The Early Intervention in Psychosis Service provides specialist support and treatment for people who are currently or may have experienced a psychotic disorder. Young people are considered to be at high risk of developing more long-term mental health difficulties after experiencing a psychotic episode, which is why there have been developments to these services to help provide support as quickly as possible.

Earlier in the year the EIP team took part in a number of activities to fundraise for Heads On, the official charity for Sussex Partnership, which raises funds to help enhance the support and services available to people with mental health difficulties and learning disabilities in Sussex and Hampshire.

Cirdan Sailing Trust have also generously contributed funds from their Voyage of Recovery Fund Scheme to help the Sussex Partnership EIP Team to take part. Cirdan’s Chief Executive, Leonie Back, said: “We have worked with EIP groups in the past and have seen first-hand how the benefits gained from an offshore sailing voyage can enhance the work done by these vital services.

“With so many of the young people who sail with us increasingly struggling with their mental health, our crew have undertaken specific training to aid their supportive roles onboard. Following the difficulties presented to everybody by the Covid-19 pandemic, we feel that there has never been a greater need for the types of adventure activities that we provide and we look forward to welcoming them onboard!”

The Sussex Partnership team were originally due to take part in the voyage in 2020, and again earlier this year, but due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic it was postponed.

The overall national project this year will see up to 100 young people who have experienced psychotic disorders participating in this unique sailing voyage, covering around 1500 nautical miles at sea.

Julie Panzieri, a mental health nurse in the EIP team in Brighton, said: “We’re so excited about this voyage! This is such a fantastic opportunity, particularly for the young people we work with who have faced additional stressors this past year. We’re already seeing some of the positive impacts of this adventure; having a purpose, a clear communal goal, and structure in our weeks as we work towards boarding the ship.

“Life at sea requires a clear structure; a perfect antidote to the chaos that can accompany a psychotic episode. The project will also be collecting data on the longer-term outcomes of how participating in adventure therapy can help people who have experienced a psychotic disorder. This is great because it will help to inform new and innovative ways that we can develop our services in the future.

“We are so pleased to have the chance to be able to take part in this amazing adventure!”

“Heads On rely on the generosity of the local community to fund projects like this. If you would like to find out more or get involved with fundraising please visit www.headsoncharity.org.