Often, we can forget just how important our mental health really is. As adults, we know that going for a walk to clear our heads, talking to someone, reading a book or going to the doctors can help us feel better about what we are thinking or how we are feeling. But what about children?
Mental health can be defined two ways: mental wellbeing and mental illness. Mental wellbeing covers areas in life such as optimism, self-esteem, feelings of being in and out of control, life satisfaction.
Mental illness refers to a diagnosable condition. It will have a huge impact on a person’s ability to function, both physically and socially. Mental illness interferes with thought process, emotions and ability to interact socially. Illnesses include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and psychoses. 
Statistics show that 10% of children and young people between the ages of 5-16 years, have a clinically diagnosable mental problem. It also shows that 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not yet had appropriate help at a sufficiently young age. 
Some children find it more difficult to express their emotions or share their thoughts verbally with others and therefore it is important to keep them active and provide enjoyment whilst doing so.
So, how can swimming improve your child’s mental health?
Any kind of physical activity can significantly help improve mental health: However, swimming is particularly effective as it has the unique benefit, being a water-based sport. Swimming is intrinsically calming, and because of its repetitive nature, swimming is extremely meditative. The slow count of reps, or self-directed thoughts such as “relax” or “stay smooth” is a build-in-mantra. 
Swimming requires the alternating stretch and relaxation of skeletal muscles whilst simultaneously deep-breathing in a rhythmic pattern. Swimming for only 30 minutes up to three times a week can help improve moods, lower stress levels, increase confidence, improve sleeping patterns and keep the mind active in a positive way. Swimming is also a very sociable and fun way for children to keep physically fit and meet new friends.
“I absolutely believe swimming can serve as a kind of medicine. For me, it represents a potent adjunct to antidepressant medications and, for some patients, it’s something you can take in lieu of pills.” – Moby Coquillard, a psychotherapist and swimmer. 
So, let’s strengthen your child’s mental health and get them in the water!