TACKLING THE MIND
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. Approximately 1 in 4 people here in the UK will experience a mental health problem but only 1 in 8 people will actually seek advice or medical help.
Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health. However, this link also works in the other direction. Factors in people’s lives, interpersonal connections, and physical factors can all contribute to mental health disruptions.
Looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life. Doing this involves reaching a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.
Mental Health problems can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender or social background. Despite this however, 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.
According to World Health Organisation, in 1990 416 million people suffered from depression or anxiety worldwide, in over twenty years this had risen to 615 million. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be around two million more adults in the UK with mental health problems than there were four years ago.
Thankfully, attitudes to mental health are, slowly, changing. The number of people acknowledging they know somebody close to them who has had a mental illness rose from 58% in 2009 to 65% in 2014 and continues to grow.
Playing sports has been proven to help in people’s recovery, help to manage symptoms and can radically improve the quality of people’s lives. Whether it’s in mainstream, community football clubs, or in specialised sport and mental health projects, football can deliver massive benefits. There are three key ways that football can help;
. Improve people's mental health
. Deliver social inclusion
. Improve people's physical health
Playing regular sports 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. These all help relieve stress and provide relaxation – this is of particular benefit for people with mental health problems.
Making friends, holding down a job, keeping fit, staying health, these are all normal parts of everyday life. But the stigma that surrounds mental illness makes all of these things harder for people who have mental health problems. While attitudes to sexuality, ethnicity and other similar issues have improved, people with mental health problems are still often treated unfairly. Football can help to break this isolation and include people more in everyday life and their communities.
People with mental health problems are statistically more likely to be obese, have 2-4 times greater risk of cardiovascular disease and 2-4 times greater risk of diabetes. Life expectancy of someone with schizophrenia is typically ten years less – due to physical health problems. Completing regular exercise and staying active will help improve both your mental and physical health.