Course taster

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is a serious public health issue on a global level. The Health Education Authority (1997) defines mental health as an emotional and spiritual resilience which enables people to survive pain, disappointment and sadness. Mental health is also defined by a fundamental belief in our own and others’ dignity and worth. The World Health Organisation’s Global Recommendations for Physical Activity for Health (2010) states that risk of depression is reduced among people who regularly exercise, symptoms of anxiety and depression are reduced across all ages, and older adults can benefit from improved cognitive function. Exercise plays an important role in maintaining mental fitness and reducing stress. Research shows that regular exercise or physical activity is effective in reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration and enhancing cognitive function. Exercise and physical activity contribute to the production and release of chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers (adrenalin, also known as endorphin).

We will explore further research on the relationship between physical activity, exercise and mental health in Unit 3. While this unit will focus on stress, affect, mood and emotion, the concepts mentioned in both Units 2 and 3 are closely interrelated.