Physical Solutions for Mental Health in Young People

Physical Solutions for Mental Health in Young People

Sad child in black hoodie sat with gymbag
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The problem with Young People's Mental Health

None of us are strangers to feeling sad or worried, especially during our formative years. Unfortunately, when these emotions occur more often, they become more complicated and can develop into increased anxiety and a near-constant despondence. 

Whether you’re a child yourself, or a grown-up, the majority of us will have all known somebody who has struggled with their mental health; particularly in their childhood & adolescence. 

You may think of a victim of bullying or somebody who endured trauma. You may think of somebody who was always a little quiet, or a little more emotional. It may even be a friend who springs to mind – somebody you still love and care for now or somebody that stopped keeping in contact.

For young people, poor mental health is all the more confusing, and tragically, statistics suggest the effects are much more detrimental.

Young boy with head in hands struggling with mental health

12 shocking Mental Health statistics in the UK

According to NHS surveys in 2017:

1. 1 in 8 children (aged from 5-19) have a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s around 3 children in every classroom.

2. Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 24.

3. 1 in 6 young people aged 16-24 have symptoms of a common mental disorder such as depression or anxiety.

How childhood mental health affects adulthood


4. In 2017, suicide was the most common cause of death for both boys (16.2% of all deaths) and girls (13.3%) aged between 5 and 19.

5. Nearly half of 17-19 year-olds with a diagnosable mental health disorder have either self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point (this is over half for young women).

6. 1 in 3 adult mental health conditions relate directly to adverse childhood experiences.

7. Adults who experienced four or more adversities in their childhood are four times more likely to have low levels of mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.

What is being done to prevent this? 


If the statistics regarding the causes and effects of poor mental health in young people shocked you, the lack of prevention is no improvement.

8. Less than 1 in 3 children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition get access to NHS care and treatment.

9. The average median waiting time for children in 2017/18 was 5 weeks to receive an initial assessment and 9 weeks to receive treatment.

10. In a YoungMinds survey, over three-quarters (76%) of parents said that their child’s mental health had deteriorated while waiting for support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

11. In total, less than 1% of the total NHS budget is spent on children and young people’s mental health services.

12. The number of A&E attendances by young people aged 18 or under with a recorded diagnosis of a psychiatric condition has almost tripled since 2010.

What solutions are there?

Everybody’s mental health is unique, and must be nurtured, protected and combatted in different ways. 

At Premier Active, we may not know a lot about medication, therapy or meditation but we do specialise in inspiring active lives – so let’s find out more about the link between physical activity and a healthy mind!

Happy children running

Physical Activity & Mental Health

“In children and adolescents, physical activity confers benefits for the following health outcomes: improved physical fitness (cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness), cardiometabolic health (blood pressure, dyslipidaemia, glucose, and insulin resistance), bone health, cognitive outcomes (academic performance, executive function), mental health (reduced symptoms of depression); and reduced adiposity.”

WHO (World Health Organsation)

For young people (aged 5-18), they recommend the following 6 Tips:

1. Moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity for 60 minutes per day.

2. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities on 3 days a week.

3. Some physical activity is always better than none.

4. Start with small amounts of exercise and increase the frequency, intensity and duration over time.

5. Provide safe and equitable opportunities for all ages and abilities.

6. Reduce screen time and time spent sitting. 

Further Evidence

“There are positive associations between sport & organised activity and mental health outcomes for young people at all levels of intervention.

The relationship is strongest for the use of sport to treat symptoms of clinical depression.

Benefits may vary by gender and for young people from particularly vulnerable or excluded groups.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ recommendation.

There are many ways in which participation in sport and organised exercise can vary, and the effects may be different for different groups of young people.”

AYPH (Association for Young People's Health)

The effect of physical activity on psychological wellbeing

Mental Health guidance for returning to physical activity

Tim Hollingsworth from Sport England revealed during the first lockdown that COVID-19 saw children’s activity levels plummet, with 44% of children either doing no activity or less than half an hour each day

Following the announcement from the Association for Physical Education, the government’s Department of Education has provided new guidance for physical activity in schools; allowing the return of grassroots sport.

As young people make their return to participating in sport once again, encouraging them to enjoy physical activity is paramount for them to reap the benefits.

Take a look at the guidance provided by Mind for managing the return to physical activity.

How else can we support children with their Mental Health?

Encourage your children to talk at home:

Build & promote Positive Mental Health in the classroom:

How else can we help?

Struggling to find ways to get your kids active while adhering to social distancing? Take a look at our safe social distancing games approved by kids!

We’re also offering a fun and engaging Health & Wellbeing Workshop – tailored to your school timetable!

Get in touch for more information!

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