Man plunges into the North Sea every day for mental health awareness
- Credit: Sam Phillips
A Felixstowe man and his army of fundraisers have been braving the bitterly cold North Sea every morning to raise awareness of mental health.
Sam Phillips, 34, started his 365-day challenge of braving the chilly waters every morning at 6am last month – and has amassed an army of socially-distanced fundraisers to help him raise awareness.
The former Orwell High School student was inspired to take the plunge after experiencing signs of mental ill health during lockdown, and turned to the YouTube videos of Wim Hof and Yes Theory to discover more about cold water therapy.
The method involves being exposed to cold water to improve one's physical and mental health – with Mr Phillips saying the bitterly cold North Sea has drastically helped improve his state of mind.
Mr Phillips said: "I've previously struggled with anxiety and depression, and during lockdown I started to get some of those feelings back – and told myself I didn't want to go down that road again.
"I saw some cold water therapy videos on YouTube and decided to give it a go. The water takes your breath away, but having people around helps you through it.
"You stay in the water for 10 minutes and come out and feel really warm and awake – it's better than any cup of coffee you can buy.
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"But it really helps your mental health, it gives you waves of good feelings throughout the day.
"I feel like I've got my life back."
Mr Phillips added the network of friends he has built while doing his morning dips is helping more men and women open up about their own mental health struggles.
He said: "It is so rewarding, I've had so many messages and so many people joining for a dip. I've made some friends for life.
"Everyone who joins is going through their own situation, but everyone is there to help and listen to them. We're all in it together.
"There are some mornings when you wake up thinking 'ugh', but to know everyone is there to support you it makes it so much easier to drag yourself out of bed."
The challenge, called Sam's Dare to Dips, has so far raised more than £1,400 for Anxiety UK – with a GoFundMe page set up here.