Changing the wave

There’s an upswell of support for the power surfing can have on people struggling with mental health.

The State Government has announced a partnership with Surfing WA and the World Surf League to support mental health and wellbeing.

The McGowan Government has committed almost $700,000 to a two-year program to raise awareness and support.

Surfing WA chief executive officer Mark Lane says the organisations are trying to reframe mental health discussions by giving people tools to overcome obstacles. 

“Our goal is to facilitate total wellness using the water around us.”  

Hear more from Mark Lane.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare suicide is most common among Australians between the age of 15 and 24.

Mr Lane says he has personally felt the impact of suicide in the surfing community. 

“To see the ripple effect of pain that spreads amongst friends and family when a loved one takes their life, is truly tragic.” 

Local surfer and paramedic Kieran Lines says surfing has helped him overcome battles with poor mental health. 

Kieran Lines says the surfing program has helped him regain perspective. Photo: Piper Duffy.

After not surfing for almost a decade, Mr Lines participated in a six-week program with the Waves of Wellness Foundation and rediscovered his passion for the sport. 

“I noticed my own mental health had been struggling, so thought I’d give the program a go.”

WOW is a non-for-profit surf therapy organisation combining mental health awareness with surfing. 

The programs are led by mental health professionals who volunteer as surf coaches.

Mr Lines says he notices his mood instantly increase after a surf. 

“It doesn’t matter how well I’ve surfed; I’ll always leave the beach thinking ‘yeah I had fun today’.”

Kieran Lines likens surfing to meditation. Video: Piper Duffy.

Mr Lane says Surfing WA are looking forward to helping support community wellbeing. 

He says people should pursue their passions.

“If you can find something you really love and dedicate your time to that, it will be beneficial.”

The program will be offered at a series of events, including the upcoming Margaret River Pro in April.