Mental Health & Metal Detecting

Metal detecting is a valued activity across the globe, exploring new territory, unearthing the past or recovering lost valuables and returning them back to their rightful owner.

Luke Webb, based in Dorset, has been supporting young people with mental health conditions for over a decade. His role is to help young people out of inpatient services, back into the community using a social prescribing, solution-focused model of care.

Luke introduced metal detecting into his work after spending a significant amount of time with a young person cleaning the beaches of Weymouth in Dorset. This time was used to not only clean their mind of troubles that they were facing, but to also clean the local beach of an impressive quantity of litter, left by the seasonal beachgoers.

Throughout their cleaning and wellbeing journey, they came across many items, including a collection of ring pulls, brightly coloured stones, coins and padlocks from a local gymnasium. The young person spoke about the value in unearthing treasures that may have been once forgotten, bringing them back to their former glory and valuing the precious item for their own. Their inquisitive mind asked about metal detecting as something they would like to try. 

Listening to the voice of the young people, the team invested in some Garrett metal detectors and were ready to explore.

By using metal detecting as an activity to support reflection on self, it has been really valuable to Luke and the young people that he supports. The analogy of “unearthing the past” is a common discussion when taking part in this therapeutic activity.

Do we choose to throw our finds in the bin, or do we keep the forgotten treasures and bring them back to life?

This can relate to potential past trauma and also previously enjoyed hobbies and interests, do we bring back the things we once enjoyed or do we discard and keep looking for new interests? This focus has helped Luke and the young person think about their identity, current interests and future goals.

The staff within his organisation also had the opportunity to visit the local beach on their breaks to enjoy a bit of time to themselves during shifts. Focusing on an activity has great value in wellbeing and the benefits can support stress, anxiety, internal debriefs along with an opportunity to network with like minded people.

Luke has also offered this activity to his own family and local scout group as a way of enabling them to take part in something new, highlighting the wellbeing benefits of being outdoors, learning about tides, history and finding lost items, scoring their wellbeing pre and post activity has been valuable to evidence the benefits of metal detecting as a fun and interesting way of occupying oneself.

Luke will continue to explore the outdoors and offer the sustainable activity of metal detecting with those that show an interest. He will continue to support the young people to dig deep into their challenges and will be alongside them with whatever outcome they choose. They are yet to find any gold but have found many gems within the young people that may have once been forgotten. The hunt continues and he looks forward to unearthing more valuable qualities within the young people he cares for, helping them to recognise their strengths and have the best start in challenging times.

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