Mental Health Awareness Week - Tuesday

Continuing our content as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, today’s article talking about how and why sport can be such a powerful driver in positive mental health.

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in four of us will experience a mental health illness at some point in our lives, the need for effective and positive intervention is ever-present. Sport can have a lasting contribution to a person’s welfare, their physical health and their mental well being. Based on a research collected by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, who helped to create the Mental Health Charter for Sport mentioned yesterday, the effect sport can have on mental health is huge!

  • Significant research has shown that sport and physical activity can reduce levels of depression as an alternative to medical intervention.
  • Studies have found that people who participate in sport typically have greater physical and overall self-esteem. This happens for children, teenagers, young adults, adults and older people, and across both males and females.
  • Research has suggested the sport can be a key contributor in reducing stress and anxiety. This has been shown to be even more effective with medium to high effort activities, like basketball.
  • People who take part in regular physical activity have been shown to have higher levels of positive emotions such as interest, excitement, enthusiasm and alertness.
  • Sport can combat obesity, which is a risk factor for developing mental health issues like depression.
  • For a full list of research, click here.

When you consider the bullet points above and everything that sport provides, is it really a surprise that it can help so much? Sport naturally teaches key mental skills like resilience, emotional strength, communication and the ability to socialise with others. Basketball is no exception and players at any level can benefit from those emotional traits. Every time you step onto a court, there will be situations that naturally teach certain mental skills through competition and play.

Becoming resilient to the challenges that come our way, perhaps your opponent’s ability, your situation within a game, or your own feelings. Being emotionally strong to balance ourselves mentally after a tough foul or decision, or reacting to a team mate or opponent. To communicate with other players, coaches and officials and recognising how someone might be feeling and what you can do to help. The ability to socialise, to work as a team and be around other people, making friends and working together.

All of the above are key to playing well on the court, but they are also very important when talking about good mental health. That is why both areas are so closely linked, and why a sport like basketball can do so much for your mental health no matter where or how you play.