Your brain is complex and powerful. At Good Sports, we know mental health is just as important as physical health. Both on and off the field.
If you kick a ball, run a marathon, send an ace down the line or sneak your bowl past the jack, you can thank your brain.
Behind the scenes, your brain is also calling the shots when it comes to how you think and feel.
When you are playing sport, your focus tends to be on physical health. But mental health is just as important.
What exactly is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act.
It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life. From childhood and teenage years through to adulthood.
The World Health Organization says mental health is:
“A state of wellbeing in which a person realises their potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.”
What’s the difference between mental health and mental illness?
Even though it’s an expression we use every day, it might surprise you that the term mental health is often misunderstood.
Mental health is a term that is often incorrectly used as a substitute for mental health conditions. This includes depression, anxiety conditions, schizophrenia, eating disorders and others.
A mental health concern becomes a mental condition or illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.
Mental health conditions are diagnosed illnesses that need professional medical treatment.
Mental health is complex
It’s important to remember that mental health is complex. The fact that someone is not experiencing a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean their mental health is flourishing.
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- job loss (unemployment)
- family history of mental health problems.
Many of these contributing factors a person has absolutely no control over.
Learning about mental health and making it common to talk about it within your club can really help to remove the stigma. This means that people who are struggling may feel more able to ask for help.
The effect of alcohol and other drugs
In many cases, alcohol and drug use can directly affect your mental health symptoms. And your mental health symptoms can directly affect your alcohol and drug use.
For example, if you have symptoms of depression and anxiety you might use alcohol to help cope with those feelings.
Over time, drinking alcohol can make those symptoms worse, and you might also develop a dependence on alcohol.
Why clubs need to include mental health in their policy
One in five Australians experiences mental ill-health every year. It’s more important than ever to make sure your players, members and parents feel safe, connected and supported.
Covering mental health in your club policy makes it easier for your club to support its members and guests.
Coaches, senior club members and leaders will be better equipped to understand the mental health environment in their club and respond accordingly. You’ll know how to have conversations around mental health and be able to point people in the direction of professional help, if they need it.
Make a difference
Your players, members and their families will feel more supported by their club and may be more likely to seek help if they know it’s readily available.
More respect for your club
Good Sports clubs with a mental health policy are stronger, more respected and more connected in their local communities, making them more attractive and welcoming.
Clubs that support player resilience by having a strong understanding of mental health may see stronger turnout at practice and on game day, as well as better player performance.