Sport and Mental Health

Sport and Mental Health         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Australian Sports Commission
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Gayelene Clews, Performance Psychologist, Wired to Play Consulting (March 2016)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 6 September 2017
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Introduction

Mental health is characterised by emotional wellbeing and resilience to stress. Mentally healthy individuals are able to cope with daily stresses and fully participate in family, work, sport, leisure, and community activities. A mental disorder is a diagnosable illness that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state, and behaviour, and disrupts his/her ability to carry out normal daily activities or engage in satisfying personal relationships.

Understanding the causes of mental/emotional stress, learning coping skills, and developing emotional and social support networks can help any individual build resilience and deal with stressful situations. Athletes are regularly challenged by stressful events related to their sport participation, and these may occur on top of daily life stresses. One’s ability to ‘bounce back’ to a normal state of functioning, following exposure to stress, is a predictor of good mental health. 


Key Messages 

1

Physical activity stimulates a biochemical response in the brain that influences one’s mental state. Regular physical activity, in appropriate amounts, contributes to personal wellbeing.

2

Sport, recreation, and physical activity can promote and encourage social interaction, which supports good mental health.

3

Athletes are subjected to sport specific stressors, as well as stress from everyday life. Good mental health is characterised by emotional wellbeing and resilience to all sources of stress.

4

An athlete's state of mind has a significant impact on their athletic performance and vice versa.

5

Diagnosis and care of an athlete’s mental health concerns must be considered within the context of sport and life.




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