Salud Mental

Team sports as a protective factor against mental health problems and suicidal ideation in adolescents

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Abstract

Introduction. Adolescents who practice sports have better mental health indicators.

Objective. To analyze the association between different types of physical activity (systematized exercise, individual, and collective sports), mental health, and suicidal ideation in adolescents.

Method. We conducted a cross-sectional study with 666 Brazilian adolescents (14-19 y.o.) attending high schools and selected using random cluster sampling. The mental health indicators analyzed were evaluated through the Self Reporting Questionnaire and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, including suicidal ideation. We also obtained physical activity information through questionnaires.

Results. There was a higher prevalence related to mental disorders (54.2% vs. 32.5%), difficulties related to mental health (79.6% vs. 48.4%), and suicidal thoughts (22.9% vs. 11.4%) in girls than in boys (p < .001 for all). The boys engaged in more team sports (41.0 vs. 23.8), whereas girls performed more exercise (45.1 vs. 26.5; p < .001).

Discussion and conclusion. The practice of team sports helps develop the collective spirit, stimulates social interaction, and develops reasoning and emotional intelligence. Boys who play team sports have fewer symptoms of common mental disorders, lower mental health problems, and less suicidal ideation than physically inactive boys.
Keywords:
Mental health, exercise, suicidal ideation, adolescent, sports

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