About this sample
About this sample
Words: 999 |
5 min read
Published: Aug 31, 2023
Words: 999|Pages: 2|5 min read
Mental health has always been a vague idea to many people. Even today, when there has been a proliferation of liberal ideas and openness towards topics that were previously considered taboo or obscene, there are still a significant number of people in the whole world that fails to grasp the idea of mental health and issues connected to it. The most vulnerable to the misconception and prejudice are children. Sometimes, parents do not see the long-term effects of “disciplinary measures” that they employ on their children. There are also times when children experience abuse, emotional and physical, from people they know and do not know. Because these issues are not being addressed right after they happen, children pay the price and bring these issues and trauma from their childhood towards their adulthood. Public health researchers refer to these traumatic events or experiences during childhood as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and understanding the pros and cons of team sports can play a crucial role in addressing the resulting physical and social problems that can lead to bigger issues such as depression, obesity, bipolar disorder, among other.
A study has been recently published in JAMA Pediatrics, Association of Team Sports Participation With Long-term Mental Health Outcomes Among Individuals Exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences, that talks about the great significance participation in team sports can make to alleviate and help with children who have experienced trauma during their childhood, reports National Public Radio, an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization based in Washington, D.C.
The research is headed by pediatrician Molly Easterlin, together with two more pediatricians, Paul Chung and Mei Leng. Easterlin, with her colleagues, used data from a total of 9,668 teens who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Out of the 9,668 participants, 5,000 teens, or 49.3% of the total sample size, were paid a particular attention because these 5,000 teens admitted to having experienced one or two ACEs. Their study shows that, out of the 5,000 teens from 1994 to 1995, those who participated in team sports were less likely to show or get diagnosed with mental health issues.
Out of the 5,000 teens, 16.8% said they are active in team sports and they showed no signs of depression, as compared to 27.5% who were not playing sports at all and were showing signs or already diagnosed with depression. Meanwhile, for anxiety the figures are 11.8% versus 16.8%. The 11.8% represents the teens who played team sports and were neither showing nor diagnosed with anxiety, while the 16.8% shows the percentage of teens who were not into team sports and were either showing or diagnosed with anxiety. The teens who were neither showing or diagnosed with anxiety or depression remained that way through their adulthood. Easterlin said in an interview, 'There may be something powerful about that team environment [in sports], where you're in competition, being coached in a certain way and interacting with your teammates towards a common goal”.
However, it is well known that in order to play sports, there has to be an available source of income that will finance the costs of playing the sport each athlete or, in this case, child athlete chose. With the growth of the United States’ youth sports industry, many sports are now requiring athletes to pay steep fees in order for them to be able to participate. This saddening truth of the sports industry limits child athletes to even participate in such activities, especially those who are living in poverty and could barely provide the bare minimum of necessities they need everyday to survive. This inability to participate in sports can also become a traumatic experience for the child, causing further damage to the child’s psyche.
Easterlin advises that, in addition to playing team sports, there has to be an emotional connection between the family of the children, too. Being able to feel that they are loved and cared for can do a lot of wonders to anyone, especially for children. Children need the feeling of support and safety from their loved ones in order for them to gain confidence and flourish.
Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine postdoctoral fellow, Amanda Paluch, says that Easterlin and her colleagues’ research has opened a lot of doors towards this subject. According to Paluch, the study, “has not been looked at much at all”, and that this can help future generations of children and adults. Easterlin and Paluch agrees, however, that this study will go nowhere without the proper support and attention. According to them, policymakers and advocates of child health should find ways to help boost children’s participation in sports by opening channels wherein children can play sports without thinking about how they will be able to pay the fees for these sports facilities. Paluch, as a parting message, said, “[Team sports] could be a low-hanging fruit to address mental health outcomes. Something that is so enjoyable ... could be an important part of every kid's life.'
In a world slowly embracing the significance of mental health, childhood remains a critical stage for understanding and addressing its complexities. For many, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) cast a shadow that extends into adulthood, contributing to a range of mental health challenges. Recent research, exemplified by Molly Easterlin and her colleagues, sheds light on a remarkable solution: participation in team sports. The study's findings underscore the pivotal role team sports play in alleviating the impact of ACEs on mental health. As adolescents engage in competitive and cooperative endeavors, a unique camaraderie emerges that fosters emotional resilience. Remarkably, those actively involved in team sports exhibit fewer signs of depression and anxiety, attributes that endure into adulthood.
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