How do playgrounds support the mental health of children?
Posted on 7th February 2022
Mental health is a very important aspect in life and for children.
Mental health is a very important aspect in life, and for children it plays a huge role in all areas of their development. Poor mental health can mean that children fall behind in their schoolwork, become socially distant and lack control of their emotions. Recently, there have been many changes to Ofsted’s inspection framework, which are highly focused on mental health provisions and emotional wellbeing. They believe that good mental health ‘is the foundation to young people achieving their aspirations’. Schools are encouraged to provide accessible and creative spaces where children can express themselves, build on their confidence and can make positive relationships.
Many children face hardships at home that can leave them distracted and have negative effects on their development, especially following the recent COVID lockdowns. These are all factors that can lead to poor mental health and cause anxiety in children. Other children may find that a classroom environment is challenging for them, especially if they are struggling with certain topics. At a young age, children build up at lot of energy when they are in a classroom and need opportunities to release this energy. Playgrounds offer time out to relieve any stresses they may have, have fun and just be children. Any form of stress relief will help to reduce anxiety symptoms that an individual may be experiencing. Engaging in physical play on a playground can also help to reduce adrenaline and cortisol, which are the body’s key stress hormones. After having time to release their energy, children often perform better in the classroom because they have a break to just enjoy themselves.
Depression is one of the most common illnesses that comes from having poor mental health. One of the main ways to help with symptoms of depression is to engage is physical activity. The NHS recommends that school aged children take part in a form of aerobic exercise for around 60 minutes a day, one example given is playground activities. School breaks and lunch times are the perfect opportunities for children to engage in physical activity. Exercise can also help to stimulate the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that naturally help to elevate moods. Outdoor play equipment also gives the opportunity for children to get a natural source of vitamin D whilst enjoying themselves. Vitamin D is so important to help regulate good mental health and reduce depressive symptoms.
Playgrounds can provide new challenges for children this can help build their confidence when trying new things. Building confidence in turn boosts self-esteem and this overall has a positive effect on mental health. It also encourages socialisation between children and if they are feeling more confident in themselves, they are more likely to engage in socialising with others. This will decrease isolation and loneliness, which many children face when they are experiencing poor mental health.
As you can see playgrounds offer so many positive mental health benefits and may be exactly what some children who struggle need to boost their mood. However, playgrounds must be creative, colourful and appealing to children to encourage them to want to use the equipment. Making them appealing to the target audience will enhance play, fun and fitness that the children will have whilst using the equipment.
Here at Playground Projects all of our equipment is designed with these factors in mind. To browse our playground equipment that may appeal to your pupils, please press here.
Share this post: