Since 2001, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “…A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity…”
Mental health plays a central role in this definition and has an important influence over body health and social behavior. According to this, WHO defines mental health as “…A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community…”
Many studies have suggested that body, mind and the social areas are connected. This connection defines the general state of a person as an individual and as a fundamental part of the community.
Through history many strategies were developed to improve the mental health in the population.
How Sports can Help
Team/Group Sports has arisen as an excellent strategy due to the fact they have a positive impact over the health states defined by WHO: mind, body and society.
In general, GS offer a wide range of benefits to health:
Reduce obesity and have a positive impact on overall health
Contribute to remove toxins from the body
Reduce stress and other illness related with daily routine
Improve endurance, especially in cardiac patients
Develop cooperation and teamwork skills
All these benefits are correlated. Physicians around the world recommend practicing sports as a complementary treatment to a variety of illnesses, including cardiac, respiratory and metabolic diseases. Team sports offer the possibility of achieving specific goals in concordance and support of other team members, making them easier to reach.
Value of Team Sports
Sports benefits are deeper expected and are profoundly correlated with mental health. Teamwork has a positive impact over human behavior and provides a lot of values that are strongly related. This turns group sports into a multi-focal strategy that allows healing not only individuals but also big communities and helps promoting mental health.
Among the most important benefits group sports offers to mental health are:
Greater sense of belonging: is one of the strongest values. To belong somewhere helps individuals to know and understand their roles in the society. Also, it helps them to know the scope of their actions and responsibilities.
Increased self-esteem and self-confidence: Is an action of self-love that helps individuals in the growing of their identity and make them feel esteem by the things they do. Having a high self-esteem is fundamental in the relation between the individual and society, also, the sense of belonging, gives it a sense of control over some situations. GS increase the sense of belonging and self-esteem by giving to each individual a specific position inside the team and that is crucial in achieving its goals.
Improve self-discipline: GS follow specific training routines that teach individuals to be organized and to have self control during stressing situations. Discipline is a strong skill that helps people in the process of planning ways to resolve daily problems in a quiet point of view.
Promote leadership, goal-setting and social-interaction skills: GS have to plan specific strategies to achieve goals. Depending of the sport the team has a structure that gives to each member an important role in the process. As a team all individuals have to elect a leader and trace goals. Also, they have to discuss, trough social interaction, the ways they are going to achieve it.
Promote resilience: Goals could be achieved (or not) according to expectations.Discussing the results is an important step in expressing how we feel about an outcome. When members of a team listen to eachother’s feelings they can empathize and support each other. This reinforces the sense of belonging and helps individuals to express their feelings in a friendly environment.
Development of long term happiness: All the thingsexposed above have, eventually, a strong positive impact on happiness. People who practice GS are happier according to surveys applied to team members. This happiness is based on their ability of relate with other people and problems of the daily life.
Group sports are a powerful strategy to improve mental health. Governments around the world should be concerned about this and follow the guidelines suggested by WHO about this topic. All the skills that an individual learns from group sports are perfectly applicable to the resolution of day to day problems and can contribute to make you happier.
Mental health is a real issue and mind, in contrast to what most of the people think, has a strong influence on body and social health.