Author Topic: Caving and mental health  (Read 9508 times)

Offline gus horsley

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Caving and mental health
« on: February 10, 2015, 12:49:08 pm »
I'm doing research for work about mental health.  If someone asked you to take them caving and then said they suffered from a mental health problem, say depression and/or anxiety, what would your initial reaction be?  Would you be happy to take them anyway or would you have second thoughts and, if so, why?

Offline richardg

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2015, 01:09:04 pm »
A really interesting topic Gus..

As a professional mentor / life coach I've found the experience of facing ones fears and overcoming them to be extremely beneficial and if this is done in one area of life it can often transmigrate  into other areas of life.

the famous Cave Explorer Bob Leakey is a perfect example of this.

During our conversations Bob would tell me of how his own thought process and psychology enabled him to the achieve the  great acomplishments he alone was capable of.....

Bob would take on challenges that would create the most fear in him, such as claustrophobia and by facing and overcoming them would become a stronger individual, a system that meant he became an immensely strong character accomplishing great feats, some of which at the time were documented as being of a quality classed as "super human"..


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Online SamT

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2015, 01:18:09 pm »

It would entirely depend

- If they were completely unknown to me it would depend on my 'first impressions'.  I might take them on a very very easy trip if I thought they seemed reasonably ok with it.  Or I might try and make excuses if my 'flaky' detector was ringing alarm bells.

- If I knew them already, I'd have a fair idea of what kind of trip my suit, if any.

I've suffered depression in the past (mildly), never affected my caving.
Not suffered anxiety though.


Offline menacer

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2015, 01:27:17 pm »
Agree sam.
Depends.
Depression and anxiety im ok with.
The more psychotic physical or behavioural disorders, such as Munchausen's, I wouldnt touch with a bargepole.

Simple reasoning is, I dont see someone elses depression or anxiety as ever being a potential threat to my personal space or even life.
 
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Offline damo8604

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2015, 01:32:23 pm »
It wouldn't concern me if I was caving with someone suffering from mental health issues, in fact most of the people I cave with display some mental health concerns  :tease:

Just because someone suffers from anxiety doesn't necessarily mean they would become anxious underground, they'd far more likely become anxious in a crowded environment, just the same as 'normal' people, showing no signs of mental health concerns totally freaking out when faced with a squeeze or a duck, we all know it happens.

I am of course not a trained healthcare professional and my opinions are not necessarily fact  :-\

Offline molerat

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2015, 02:00:02 pm »
"Mental health problems" cover many, many different things. Would I take somebody caving who has a physical health problem? It would depend on what their condition was. If they had a broken leg, it might not be sensible. If they had hayfever, there's no problem.

There may be a few mental health conditions that could make it difficult for somebody to cave safely. For example, if they had a learning disability that meant communication was very difficult then caving might be off the cards. But depression or anxiety? The person concerned knows best what they are able to do. If they want to go underground, great! Caving is a good means of improving physical and mental health.

Offline cavermark

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2015, 03:02:31 pm »
I'd agree with previous posts.  I've had anxiety at times - caving helps relieve the symptoms.

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2015, 03:19:28 pm »
I'm doing research for work about mental health.  If someone asked you to take them caving and then said they suffered from a mental health problem, say depression and/or anxiety, what would your initial reaction be?  Would you be happy to take them anyway or would you have second thoughts and, if so, why?
Initial reaction is it is good that they recognise that they have a mental health problem. Suspecting someone has a problem later, which they themselves don't recognise, might very occasionally be more of an issue. But overall, very little here to be concerned about, I suspect.

Online Brains

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2015, 06:42:31 pm »
Speaking from experience, if a club member develops a condition that some of the club dont like (with criminal convictions for said condition), then that person should be expelled from the club on some tenuous excuse such as they cant be insured (untrue). This decision should be taken in a secret, without canvasing the full membership, by a subsection of the committee and any other members who may be present and have an issue with said person. This decision should be based on uninformed opinion with no right of reply or appeal, but instead relying on sensationalist and inaccurate reporting in the press. That person should then be ostracised by thier former clubmates...

Offline Bartleby

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2015, 08:43:50 pm »
Was talking to a close friend of mine who had/has experienced depression and anixity.  As she had not told me about this prior to our trip, in fact we got talking whilst having lunch in Box, i asked her how she felt about going underground, did it make her feel more anxious etc?.  Her response:

"Its great being down here, can just switch off from all the c*ap in my head and think about nothing".


Online Robert Scott

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2015, 08:57:43 pm »
At the risk of being shot down, may I point out that
1. Depression and anxiety are not the same (just think about the words themselves)
2. They are not even similar
3. They will not have comparable reactions to the same situation.

I await someone with better medical qualifications (MRODoc?) to comment.

That said, yes go for it.

Offline Lazarus

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2015, 09:28:18 pm »
RobScott; yes best wait for someone qualified. They may be different but can be connected.

Bartleby; I agree with your friends sentiments. Being underground or even just out on the open fell is a wonderful escape from 'the crap'.

As long as the person is not a danger to themselves or others it should be fine and potentially help them.
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Offline topcat

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2015, 10:22:03 pm »
I get depressed if I don't go caving [climbing/skiing/paddling/biking/..]

Online Brains

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2015, 10:27:49 pm »
Was talking to a close friend of mine who had/has experienced depression and anixity.  As she had not told me about this prior to our trip, in fact we got talking whilst having lunch in Box, i asked her how she felt about going underground, did it make her feel more anxious etc?.  Her response:

"Its great being down here, can just switch off from all the c*ap in my head and think about nothing".

I fully agree with this, walking (in the mountains, or round the town) is also a good reliever of symptoms

Offline Pie Muncher

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2015, 11:10:08 pm »
If someone asked you to take them caving and then said they suffered from a mental health problem, say depression and/or anxiety, what would your initial reaction be?  Would you be happy to take them anyway or would you have second thoughts and, if so, why?
If someone asked you to take them caving. You want to go caving, lets go caving.
and then said they suffered from a mental health problem, say depression and/or anxiety, what would your initial reaction be? You want to go caving, lets go caving.
Would you be happy to take them anyway. Yes.
or would you have second thoughts. No.
and, if so, why? Everyone I have ever caved with has some hangup but I don't brand them with the mental health issue stigma. We all have mental health issues, they fall away when caving, caving with friends, no sh*t underground, peace and being.
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Offline mmilner

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2015, 06:37:31 am »
Great posts above. I'm actually going for an interview today for a support worker role for people with learning difficulties. I think caving or just walking in the countryside would help them. I know I feel less stressed when up the Peak than at home. (Though it's warmer at home at this time of year!) Will be interesting to see how it goes...
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Offline caving_fox

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2015, 09:12:56 am »
Part of the Scout association risk assessment for any activity is "Do you have any current health conditions the leader needs to know about that will effect your participation".This remains a good question to ask yourself/team every time you go caving etc.

If the member is sufficiently experienced to know what will/won't effect a trip then fine. If it's a new member than perhaps a bit of a chat about what they're likely to experience is in order anyway. So it depends on the person the trip and the details of their  condition.
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Offline damo8604

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2015, 12:17:21 pm »
Great posts above. I'm actually going for an interview today for a support worker role for people with learning difficulties. I think caving or just walking in the countryside would help them. I know I feel less stressed when up the Peak than at home. (Though it's warmer at home at this time of year!) Will be interesting to see how it goes...

My first job after leaving the army was a support worker for people with learning difficulties, I loved that job! Did it for quite a few years and had great job satisfaction, I tried to involve them in as many 'normal' activities that 'normal' people did and they loved me for it.

Sadly the one particular chap I was a key worker for passed away, although I had left the care industry years previously, his mother looked me up to invite me to his funeral saying in the short time I had spent in his life, I had made a significant improvement to his quality of life by ignoring his obvious disabilities and giving him a chance to do things he wouldn't normally be able to do.

Further to this, last year I took my and my sisters family on an 'adventure holiday', as usual I took the kids over to Runscar & Thistle to be met by a large group of blind children who had been taken through the caves  :thumbsup:

My thoughts are, if a person is capable enough and the appropriate risk assessments have been made in line with current care standards then why not?

Offline gus horsley

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2015, 12:40:49 pm »
Thanks for the posts so far.  Compared to the organisation I work for, which has about 200,000 employees, it's apparent that cavers are generally are open-minded about the issue of what people are apparently capable of with mental (and physical) disabilities.  I find it ironic that I can hold down a position of considerable responsibility (and I've also been an underground instructor) whilst carrying a learning disability (adult ADD), yet a large number of our customers are not regarded as fit for work with same condition.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2015, 12:49:53 pm »
It would be interesting to get the views of my daughters who are both working in the NHS in mental health.  As a former GP and sufferer from recurrent depression I would say that caving is really good therapy for it in that it 'gets you out of yourself' into a completely different environment.  I have a feeling that the mental health problem is more likely to prevent the person from caving rather than caving is unsuitable for that person eg a major pyschosis. I have come across cavers to whom this seems to apply. Chronic anxiety may well be helped by allowing an individual to build confidence in challenging situations.

Most people with mental health problems will be well aware of them. The most dangerous are those who are unaware they have a problem at all!

Offline ttxela

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2015, 01:49:20 pm »
I don't claim to be an expert (in caving or mental health!) however I am very close to someone who suffers from depression and anxiety.

Although she doesn't enjoy caving there are other outdoor activities she enjoys, whilst I agree that this should be no bar on going I would say it has some bearing on the arrangements and considerations when planning a trip. In my experience on a good day it will not be an issue however on a bad day you may need to be more prepared than normal to scrub the trip or cut it short.

Also in a previous life when I ran a shooting club I was asked to teach a lad with learning difficulties to shoot, whilst I readily agreed and there were no real issues either around safety or ability we effectively had to start from scratch each week which I think both of us found frustrating and after a few sessions the lad stopped coming.

So with more severe issues I would perhaps say that you may need to consider your own patience and temperament however well intentioned you may be - and also perhaps be realistic about what can be achieved?
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Offline Duncan Price

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2015, 03:11:42 pm »
I have been treated for clinical depression on more that one occasion.  At its worst, I could hardly function and going underground was not on the agenda despite the advice that "a bit of exercise would be good for you".  I've made myself go [cave diving] when not quite as bad - I was safe but didn't enjoy it  [remarks about cave divers being "suicidal" really hits a raw nerve for me - I might have wanted to kill myself on occasion but I do not want to die in a cave, quite the opposite as I have felt most "alive" when potholing underwater].  In fact I knew that I had come through one episode when I was sufficiently motivated to go out and do a solo trip to a site I had never been to.

Like a lot of people, I find that regular participation in all aspects of speleology is a good way of keeping my spirits up in general and keeping the Black Dog at bay in particular.

There is a stigma attached to depression - it is very common though and nothing to be ashamed of.


Online Ian Adams

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2015, 08:03:12 pm »
As it has already been mooted by Robert Scott, depression and anxiety are quite different.

I guess you are asking to gauge a response from a spectrum and I guess each individual response is of interest to you in that regard …

I also guess that you are looking for pre-conceived ideas as to whether caving might act as a catalyst in either case as well whether (we) cavers  pre-conceive thoughts as to whether depression or anxiety affect the decision to take some one along.

I also guess everyone is answering with their own thoughts and opinions ….

(A lot of guessing)

To specifically answer your question then …

If I were asked in the scenario you outlined I would not consider either depression or anxiety as a negative factor nor would I likely make any allowance/adjustment either.

For me, the prevailing important point is that I am being asked by the “sufferer” who, whilst asking, was (as I see it) asking to do something they wanted to do. Neither of the conditions  per se you outlined  inhibit  them (in my eyes)

If anxiety became an issue whilst underground then I would deal with it then (how many times have we been with someone who got the wobbles?)

Another question I always ask myself is “how far should we each go to protect others from their own stupidity?”   I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, I mean it in the sense that we all, as individuals, have the right to make choices and decisions – at what point do “you” become a police officer and deny someone their lawful choice just because “you” don’t agree ?

I guess there is no real answer that that (another guess)…



Ian

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Offline droid

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2015, 08:28:28 pm »
Be aware Ian, that short term anxiety/panic attacks are a different animal to a long-term anxiety state.

Long-term anxiety states can and do lead to depression. The transition is difficult to discern even for the sufferer.
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Online Ian Adams

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Re: Caving and mental health
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2015, 12:28:15 am »
Droid,

Can you elaborate on how anxiety can become depression ? (because I don't know)

Also, can you conjecture on how an anxiety can become a panic attack (same reason) ?

 :)

Ian
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