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Human Development

Sports and Mental Health – Naomi Osaka steps out from French Open

Sports and Mental Health – Naomi Osaka steps out from French Open


  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Human Development || Health

Why in the news?

Naomi Osaka, a Japanese tennis star, just withdrew from the French Open due to depression, bringing mental health concerns back into the forefront.


Mental illness accounts for around 15% of all disease conditions worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). To be cured, mental disease requires psychological, emotional, and social well-being activities. It may even lead to suicidal behavior in the individual if not addressed appropriately.

Understanding mental illness:

  • Mental diseases are disorders that cause a person’s mood, thinking, or behavior to alter (or a combination of these). Distress and/or issues with functioning in social, job, or family activities are common symptoms of mental diseases. People with bipolar illness and schizophrenia, for example, are severely unstable and harmful to themselves and others.
  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry; life events, such as trauma or abuse; and a family history of mental health problems are all major contributors to mental health difficulties.

How to counter mental health?

  • The most effective strategy to combat mental health issues via athletics is to start at the grassroots level by emphasizing a more long-term, healthy, and holistic approach.
  • The excellent grassroot initiatives of Anantapur Sports Academy are a fantastic illustration of the influence of sports on youth. According to an effect analysis of the sports program on the physical, emotional, and social development of children participated in the program, these youngsters were happier and more confident, indicating improved mental well-being.

Psychological benefits of sports:

  • Enhance mental health:Sports not only promote physical health, but they also help to enhance mental health since they have several psychological advantages.
  • Optimistic attitude: When compared to non-sport participants, youth who were actively involved in sports had a more optimistic attitude about life, implying that there was less suicide ideation among sports players.
  • Self-development: Person who participated in sports had higher levels of self-control, confidence, social skills, and the ability to develop new relationships.
  • Greater social functioning: one who participated in team sports had lower levels of social anxiety. When compared to non-athletes, athletes reported greater social functioning, mental health, and happiness.
  • Those who participate in sports have more good outcomes (such as no lack of confidence, relationships, and social well-being) than those who do not participate in sports, but less so than those who participate in sports and other activities.
  • Sport helps to prevent despondency and suicide.
  • Strong mental order:adolescents who participate in athletics have higher levels of confidence, assertiveness, social skills, self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-control, self-concept, and competence.

Challenges in improving mental health in India:

  • Lack of knowledge and sensitivity about mental health issues: The first and most important cause for India’s high mental health sickness rate is a lack of awareness and sensitivity about mental health issues. Apart from that, India has a high rate of societal stigma and desertion of those who are mentally sick.
  • Economic Loss: According to the World Health Organization, the burden of mental diseases is highest among young adults. Because the majority of the population is young, the delayed or non-treatment of mentally sick people will result in a loss of man-days.
  • A scarcity of resources: a small number of people working in the mental health field: According to the World Health Organization, there were 0.301 psychiatrists and 0.047 psychologists for every 100,000 people in India suffering from mental illness. When compared to the number of mental health patients, this is a fairly small amount.
    • Low budgetary allocation: India spends just 0.5 percent of the total health budget on mental health. For example, the National Mental Health Programme received just Rs 40 crore in the current budget, out of a total health sector allocation of Rs 2.23 lakh crore.
  • High out-of-pocket costs: During economic downturns, the majority of mental health concerns tend to rise. In addition, the insurance plans only cover physical ailments, not mental ones. This causes in substantial out-of-pocket expenses during difficult economic times.
  • No access to treatment: The majority of mental health services are situated in cities. Nearly 92 percent of people who require mental health care and treatment do not have access to any type of mental health care, according to estimates.

Global initiatives to improve mental health:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) released the Mental Health Atlas in 2017.
  • The World Health Organization’s Special Initiative for Mental Health was established in 2019. Its goal is to draw attention to the enormous worldwide burden of impairment caused by mental health issues. In addition, the effort intends to speed up a multi-sectoral approach to improve mental health treatment.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3.4 and 3.5 discuss eliminating mental illness in the global society.

Indian initiatives to improve mental health:

  • National Mental Health Programme (NMHP): In 1982, India created the NMHP to enhance mental health in the country. It is made up of three major components. Treatment of the mentally sick, rehabilitation, and prevention and promotion of good mental health are only a few examples.
  • The Mental Health Care Act of 2017 (MHCA): The Mental Health Act of 1987 was repealed by this Act. The Act aims to protect the rights of people with mental illnesses to obtain treatment and live a dignified life.
  • Manodarpan Initiative: Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the Ministry of Education created the Manodarpan Initiative. During the Covid-19 period, the project provides psychological assistance to kids, family members, and instructors for their mental health and well-being.
  • KIRAN helpline: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment developed a toll-free hotline that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This hotline is for persons who are dealing with anxiety, stress, depression, suicide thoughts, and other mental health issues.
  • MANAS App (Mental Health and Normalcy Augmentation System): MANAS stands for Mental Health and Normalcy Augmentation System. It’s a nationwide digital wellbeing platform that’s comprehensive, scalable, and customizable. It was created to help Indian folks improve their mental health.
  • RAAH app: This is a mobile app that gives free information to the public about mental health specialists and mental health care facilities. The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has put up an online mental health care directory that is a one-stop shop.

What more that can be done?

  • Increase fiscal allocation: The government’s budgetary allocation to the mental health sector must be increased. To promote public mental health, the government must also train professionals on the ground (ASHA, ANM, AWW).
  • Raising Mental Health Awareness: The government must raise mental health awareness and take initiatives to remove societal stigma. Treatment will be completed more quickly as a result of this.
  • Reducing out-of-pocket spending: The government must give financial assistance in order to minimize out-of-pocket spending. Furthermore, both government and commercial insurance policies should cover mental health care as part of their coverage.
  • Better cooperation between the Center and the States: Because healthcare is a state issue, both the Center and the States should work together more closely.


Sports has positive impact on mental health of all individual. Despite the psychological and social benefits of sports there are only handful of mental health professional who use sports as intervention for treating various disorders. Extensive research needs to be done on how sports is helpful in alleviating symptoms of various mental disorders so that the findings can help the mental health professionals to include sports as part of intervention of mental disorders.