Bridging the Gap Between Mental Health and Sports in Adolescence

We’ve all heard it before. Staying active can lower depression and improve overall mental health. This couldn’t be more true during adolescence. Offering your child the opportunity to participate in team or individual sports can yield a plethora of positive results. Mental health and sports are closely linked and can help facilitate a child’s development. The social support group of a sports team fosters communication skills and gives your child a positive feeling of inclusivity. Individual sports can create lifelong healthy habits that carry far into adulthood.

Values in Sports

Whether it’s cycling, soccer, or cross country running, sports encourage the development of important values such as teamwork, cooperation, time management, critical thinking, and self-worth. These attributes set your child up for future success in their academic and professional journeys. Growing these skills at a young age strengthens emotional intelligence and allows young adults to cope with and adapt to different situations with less stress and worry.

Even When You Lose, You Win

As a parent, we know you hate seeing your child sad. Losing, however, is an important life lesson reinforced through sports. The ups and downs of competitive sports teach your child resilience and perseverance. 


Joining a sports team provides the availability of a social support group that a young athlete can depend on. Team sports especially teach your child valuable socialization skills, as placing your child with groups of similarly aged kids helps them learn to socialize. It provides your child with structured time spent around familiar faces, where they can learn how to interact and create lifelong friendships. A bonus is it will help alleviate the general stresses of adolescence your child may be feeling.

Set Your Child Up for Success

Your child’s enrollment in sports will, of course, improve your child’s physical health. Being active during these transformative years can help your child establish healthy habits they can continue into adulthood. 

Physical sports will yield immediate health benefits, resulting in healthy weight management, cardiorespiratory health, plus muscle and bone strength. Exercise has also been proven to improve sleep, decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase endorphins (the feel-good hormone). 1 

Check-in on Your Child

Sports can give your child the opportunity to learn essential life values and build healthy lifestyle habits starting at an early age. Whether through an individual or team sport, consider looking into an active extra-curricular that your child may be interested in. Keep in mind that your child might not open up to you about everything. You may need to prod your child to find out how she is feeling.

Sports are not the answer for every troubled child. While it may help, sometimes your child may benefit from some added activities. If you feel that your child may be struggling with mental health-related issues, our family therapists recommend considering individual therapy. At Marriage and Family Services, we have the resources to identify and resolve any issues your child may be having. We tailor solutions to fit your family’s needs, providing options such as individual therapy, play therapy, and many other forms of family counseling. 

Schedule an appointment today with our licensed professionals, who will help your family reach their true potential. 


  1. The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Related Readings:

Stress Management With Teens

Mindfulness Tips For You and Your Family

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