What is Mental Health in Sport?

Today on the blog, I wanted to share about mental health and how it relates to sport. Let’s get started…

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is a term often used to describe an individual’s mental state. The World Health Organisation defines it as:

“A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stressors of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

As a term ‘mental health’ is frequently misunderstood. It is often referred to as a substitute for mental health conditions (e.g. depression, schizophrenia and anxiety conditions). However, as you can see by the definition above, everyone can benefit from looking after their mental health.

Mental Health Intervention Spectrum

When I was working in a National Mental Health Initiative, I was fortunate enough to learn quite a bit about mental health. I also supported schools to increase their knowledge and understanding of mental health. One of the ways we talked about mental health this was through the spectrum of interventions. As you can see by the diagram below it looks at – mental health promotion, prevention, treatment and maintenance.

More can read more about the diagram here.

Mental Health is Everybody’s Business

As you can see by the diagram above, at the core of mental health is providing strategies for promoting wellbeing and quality of life. The strategies will be different for different populations, however the intention remains the same – promoting well-being and quality of life for everyone!

What is Mental Health in Sport?

After reading the above, can you see the importance of mental health and how it can relate to sport? For example – do you think it is important for athletes to –

  • have a safe and supportive environment to practise and play their sport in?
  • be able to learn from their losses, injuries and others challenges in their sport (i.e. develop resilience)?
  • develop competence, resourcefulness and strategies to look after their mental health? and
  • feel a sense of empowerment over their sport and also their life?

Yes? Me too!

Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to what is mental health in sport? I truly believe mental health and wellbeing is everybody’s business. If you have any comments, please leave them below or pop over to our Facebook page.

Reference –

Barry, M. (2001). Promoting positive mental health: Theoretical frameworks for practice. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 3(1), 25-34

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