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“Team sports transforms lives,” says Great Britain Handball Player and NHS Junior Doctor Ben Tyler

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which has been led by the Mental Health Foundation every year since 2001.

This year’s focus is ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health.’

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A Mental Health Foundation report found that 36% of UK adults do not meet the physical activity recommendations set out by the World Health Organisation.

This is despite 82% of UK adults agreeing that regular physical activity is important for mental health.

Different factors impact how often people exercise, but how do we tackle this problem?

One man who has his solution is Great Britain Handball Player and NHS Junior Doctor, Ben Tyler.

About Ben Tyler

Tyler has played handball at a national level from 16 years old and is in his final year of GP training in Chesterfield.

Speaking about mental health, Tyler said: “My passion for mental health comes from the fact I believe everyone deserves to be happy.

“Mental health doesn’t just mean not being depressed, it means being mentally well.”

Statistics regarding young people

There is a mental health crisis in the UK, especially regarding younger people.

I have highlighted this myself in a previous article of mine. The figures are worrying.

New figures show that one in five people in England who are in contact with mental health services are aged 15 or under. This figure counts for over 400,000 young people.

“It feels like a scary and troubling landscape for us all in the NHS,” said Tyler.

“It’s a significant issue. But conversely, taking somebody sad and suffering and helping them to become happy is an amazing thing.”

From a GP’s perspective

With Tyler working as a GP, he knows from the inside about mental health and the ongoing crisis, dealing with patients regularly.

“Being a GP working in the health service, we see different cases every day. We are starting to think more and more about how we can better support everyone and boost mental wellbeing.

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“Working directly with vulnerable people has shown me that we need to use everything at our disposal.

“I worked with one teenage patient who went through significant trauma as their parents divorced and they sadly became witness to lots of violence. This person started to self-harm as a coping strategy.

“As part of supporting them, we asked them to get involved in a team sport, and the transformation in their mental health was incredible.

“This kind of positive social impact shows the true power of sport and physical activity.”

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Sport is the saviour

Tyler went on to further explain how sport can help anybody with their mental health, especially younger people.

“In my experience, sport is the best way to feel mentally well.

“A lot of people will have some experience of being physically active. But if I’m dealing with someone who doesn’t have much experience being active, I think about what sport they can get involved with instantly.

“Taking up an accessible sport is fantastic for beginners- football, cricket and rugby are usually the most common choices.

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“Team sports allow people to feel part of a group, a fantastic way to foster social connection and tackle isolation.”

How Handball is helpful

Handball isn’t a sport you immediately think of when it comes to popular team sports in the UK.

However, Tyler is encouraging more people to take up the sport, providing his own experience representing Great Britain.

“Handball aligns fully with my beliefs on team sports.

“I have been lucky enough to play at a high level and represent Great Britain on the international stage, and it’s all the wider benefits that make me believe it can transform so many lives.

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“If you’re suffering, and even if you’re not, team sports transforms lives – joining a community is one of the best ways to help yourself and your mental wellbeing.”

Author

  • Sam Sheppey

    Sam is a 22-year-old award-winning sports journalist from Hertfordshire with experience writing for club media with Stevenage Football Club, magazine articles with Greenways Publishing, and podcasting for talkSPORT and Birmingham City fan channel Blues Focus. Link to portfolio: https://muckrack.com/sam-sheppey/portfolio