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Kid sport dropouts at higher risk of mental health problems
by: Smartplay Admin

Kid sport dropouts at higher risk of mental health problems

Media release


10 October 2014


Kid sport dropouts at higher risk of mental health problems


Australian primary school kids who drop out of organised sport have up to a 20 per cent greater risk of developing mental health problems within three years than those who keep participating according to new research released during Mental Health Week 2014.
The research, to be formally presented at Sports Medicine Australia’s be active 2014 conference next week, found that children who dropped out of organised sport between the ages of 8 and 10 had greater psychological difficulties at age 10 than those children still participating in organised sports.
Lead author Dr Stewart Vella of the Early Start Research Institute, University of Wollongong said those children who had dropped out of organised sports reported greater social and emotional problems, as did those who did not participate in organised sport at all.


“We know that sports participation has long been associated with better mental health such as through the development of better social and emotional skills and self-esteem,” Dr Vella said.
“We also know that half of all psychological disorders have their onset before the age of 14 years.
“While we were expecting our results to confirm the negative psychological consequences of dropping out of organised sport, we were surprised by the magnitude of the differences, with the total relative increase of risk in mental health problems within three years for kids who drop out between 10 to 20 per cent.


“What was also concerning was the projected rate of sport dropouts among Australian children.
“Based on the dropout rates per year recorded during our study – if this number was to remain consistent throughout childhood and adolescence – it would translate to approximately 250,000 young Australians dropping out of organised sports every year.”
Dr Vella said kids who drop out of organised sports should be monitored for psychological difficulties.


“Clubs, coaches, parents and health practitioners should also look out for kids experiencing psychological difficulties who drop out of sport, as a higher level of mental health issues may be experienced immediately prior and subsequent to dropping out.”
The research, Associations between sports participation and psychological difficulties during childhood: A two year follow up, examined the mental health of more than four thousand children from the Longitudinal Study of Australia Children, comparing those who participated in sport to those who dropped out of sports or did not participate.


For more information on be active 2014 (15 – 18 October, Canberra): www.beactive2014.org

For media passes, media interviews and access to research abstracts:
Georgia Brumby, National Media Manager: 03 9674 8703 / 0401 097 176
Twitter @beactive2014 ; @sma_news; #beactive14

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