Mental Fitness - Blogs

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World Mental Health Day, 10th Oct 2018

This term our spotlight on sport is focusing on mental fitness. This is defined as having a healthy and strong mind which allows you to manage the challenges and opportunities that life puts in front of you, without getting too worn out. There are many different factors which can contribute to Mental Fitness and we have chosen to look in more detail at the effect that diet and physical activity have on our mental health.

What do we hope to achieve from this Spotlight?

We hope that our Spotlight on Mental Fitness will help us understand the link between mental and physical fitness and the concept that both of these are dependent on each other. We often talk about the mind and body as though they are completely separate – but they aren't. The mind can’t function unless your body is working properly but it also works the other way. To ensure that our wellbeing is maintained we need to ensure that both our minds and bodies are looked after so that they can function to their full capacity. This Spotlight will also give the children an understanding of what mental illness looks like and the symptoms that sufferers may feel.

Why are we teaching the children about at mental health?

Recent studies have shown that 25% of people in the UK suffer from poor mental health at some stage in their lives and one in every ten children has a diagnosable mental health disorder. Even more worrying is research that suggests that one in five children show evidence of mental ill health, which can have long-lasting implications throughout that child’s life. 75% of mental illness start in childhood which highlights the need to focus on improving people’s mental health from a young age. This term we will look into how we can prevent poor mental health, what the indicators are for someone whose mental health may be deteriorating and also how we can treat mental health illnesses.

How can physical activity improve children's mental health?

When you exercise, your brain chemistry changes through the release of endorphins which can calm anxiety and lift your mood. You may also experience reductions in feelings of stress and tension as your body is better able to control cortisol levels. Some people find that exercise helps to break up racing thoughts. As your body tires so does your mind, leaving you calmer and better able to think clearly. Simply taking time out to exercise can give you space to think things over and help your mind feel calmer. In addition to offering a way to prevent mental health illnesses, physical activity can also help treat them. Doctors might suggest you do some exercise to help lift your mood if you suffer from depression. This is because exercise can be a more effective treatment than alternative methods, such as taking antidepressants, showing how important physical activity can be for people’s wellbeing.

How can children’s diet affect their mental health?

Educating children to make the right choices with their diet can impact both on their physical and mental health. Nearly two thirds of those who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, compared with less than half of those who do report daily mental health problems. This pattern is similar for fresh vegetables and salad. Those who report some level of mental health problem also eat fewer healthy foods (fresh fruit and vegetables, organic foods and meals made from scratch) and more unhealthy foods (chips and crisps, chocolate, ready meals and takeaways). Sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. This may cause an initial ‘high’ or surge of energy that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production, leaving you feeling tired and low. Avoiding these highs can lead to a balanced mood and feelings of well-being. Across the Federation all children and staff will be celebrating World Mental Health Day on Wednesday 10th October. Please do take the time to have a look at what we have been enjoying and learning.