Just like physical health, everyone also has mental health. In schools we learn how to look after our physical health through completing physical education; but we fail to understand what is required to look after our mental health.
The WHO (World Health Organization) defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, how we feel and how we act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices and is important at ever stage of our life from childhood and adolescence through to adulthood.
TACKLING THE MIND
Mental Health doesn't discriminate and it can affect anyone, regardless of what their age, race, gender or social background is. Approximately 1 in 4 adults here in the UK will experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem of some kind every year.
Studies have shown that certain mental illnesses affect men and women differently. Perhaps the most interesting (and worrying) is that while on average more women are diagnosed with common mental health problems than men, the rate of male suicides is significantly higher. This suggests that men are suffering with mental distress, but may not be receiving (or indeed asking for) the help they need.
4 in 5 suicides are by men, and for men under the age of 45 suicide is the biggest cause of death. Suicide rates in young women have almost doubled since 2013. The UK reports on average 6000 suicides every year, with the number of attempted suicides said to be five times greater.
It is important to understand that our mental health doesn't always stay the same. It can change as we go through experiences, and that certain circumstances change particularly as we move through different stages of our lives.
Early intervention is key to recovery. Early intervention can reduce the impact of mental health problems and help build up the tools required to overcome the issue. However 90% of people with mental health problems experience some form of stigma (e.g from friends and family, at work, in education or during treatment) which restricts them from seeking help or advice prolonging their recovery.
Making friends, holding down a job, keeping fit, staying health, these are all normal parts of everyday life. Things that people are expected to be able to do. But the stigma that surrounds the subject of mental health makes all of these things harder for people who are experiencing episodes.
Football can help to break this stigma and has proven to help aid in people’s recovery, help to manage symptoms and can radically improve the quality of people’s lives. There are three key ways that football can help;
. Improve people's mental health
. Deliver social inclusion
. Improve people's physical health
Playing football can help improve symptoms of some mental health issues like depression and stress, can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem, and can help to reduce anxiety. For some people, physical activity can be as powerful as medicine or therapy. Exercise releases natural chemicals like adrenaline and serotonin. It also helps to release muscle tension, raises the body temperature and causes tiredness of which help relieve stress and provide relaxation – this is of particular benefit for people with mental health problems.
There is no widely accepted definition of recovery. Recovery means different things to different people. For some people recovery means aiming to be symptom free. For others it might mean managing symptoms well enough to live a meaningful life. Recovery can be a short-term or long-term process.
The thing to understand about recovering from poor mental health and tackling the mind is that it is like training for a marathon; no one can take that first step for you. Once you take that first step, your training begins, and then you take more steps, and the more steps you take the more you learn and understand what is required to help you. Just like any training there will be set-backs, but when setbacks occur it's what you learn and how you come back from them that are important.
Our motto is always the same, that the hardest part of tackling the mind is turning up.