What's up: Mental health in sports

What's up: Mental health in sports

In this month’s What’s up student Column our EUSA Intern Ms Emma Carrière elaborates on the importance of mental health and well being in sports.

I think we all know that sport has a physical effect on everyone and allows us to mold our body as we wish. But what about the effects on mental health? And how are these mental issues perceived by athletes and the general public?
First of all, what does the term "mental health" really mean? The World Health Organization defines this term as “a state of well-being in which a person can fulfill themselves, overcome the normal stresses of life, perform productive work and contribute to the life of his community”.

According to one study, sport is described as a “miracle medication” in the prevention and management of mental health. Indeed, it would improve our mood, reduce the chances of depression and anxiety and develop a more balanced lifestyle. People would feel more awake, calm and satisfied after physical activity but also less stressed and therefore make better decisions. In addition, sport also helps to reduce social isolation while increasing self-esteem.
According to scientists, physical activity would even be 1.5 times more effective than psychotherapy or the medication usually delivered to fight against the symptoms of depression.

We can have a conclusion that the practice of a sport is essential to fight against mental problems. But sport is not capable of solving all of these diseases. Indeed, some great athletes find it more difficult to assume certain problems such as anxiety, depression, stress or even sleep disorders for fear of being perceived as a failure and reducing their chances of signing a contract for a team, advertising campaign or sponsor. Poor mental health should not be seen as a sign of weakness and needs to be addressed at all levels to overcome this stigma.

It is therefore important to identify these diseases, to treat them but also to assume them, here are some examples of athletes who have succeeded despite those:
Serena Williams, world tennis champion who suffered from depression following injuries and health problems as well as a postpartum depression.
But also Michael Phelps, the most decorated competitive swimmer and Olympian of all time, confessed to falling into depression, drugs and once considered suicide.

I would like to finish this article with the message that, mental health must be treated appropriately and taken seriously at all levels. It is important to understand that this is not an end in itself and that everyone is capable of going through this ordeal. Mental problems should not be seen as a weakness but rather as a strength, a sign of courage, you have to see yourself as a winner.

The author of this article, Emma Carrière, is currently an intern at the European University Sports Association as part of her studies. She passes a certificate of higher technician in management in Bordeaux, France. Mental health is a major subject of our generation, free the floor, treat your ailments, help others and keep moving forward.

Are you a student with an opinion? We are looking for new contributors for our student column every month. Feel free to contact stc@eusa.eu to offer a piece or propose a topic.