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From an early age, I was always told the many benefits of protecting the mind. Thinking about it now, I can hear the incessant echo of the phrase ‘there’s a thin line between sanity and insanity’ in the back of my head. I was always told to speak up, say what was on my mind and not develop a habit of keeping things bottled up, as doing so has harrowing repercussions. Whatever the issue was, it was ok to say.

I suppose I was somewhat fortunate growing up in an era where young people were young people; we played outside in the rain, met up with friends at the arcade or corner shops and had real 1 to 1 conversations outside of Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. (This is a fad now considered boring and somewhat outdated).

Young people of today are surrounded by distractions, they have so much to do yet so little time. If you think social issues were bad enough (Brexit, ongoing terror warnings and the furore surrounding the General Election), think about the personal front; issues at home, coping with peer pressure, exam stress, social media bullying, hormones…I could go on.

Using social media as an example, there are many young minds which are intrinsically jacked into the matrix (pun intended) at all hours of the day, failing to look after their personal health & wellbeing. Each time, they are consumed by every scroll, swipe, tap, Like, share, resulting in them spending endless amounts of time within this virtual-sphere.

Now as someone who works in social media, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using social media to stay up to date or finding the latest hilarious meme. However, it does present a problem when it comes to overuse of social media amid its recent link with mental health problems.

Earlier in May, the RSPH and the Young Health Movement came out with the #StatusOfMind report, claiming Instagram was the worst social media platform among several with negative impacts on mental health. They include anxiety, loneliness, body image, self-identity and sleeping patterns. Additionally, recent data polling from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) has shown a 210% increase in people leaving university before completing their course – this has trebled since 2009-10. This begs the question; how can we help our young people in managing these major issues?

According to ukactive research, young people today are the proverbial definition of generation inactive; leaving them susceptible to coronary heart diseases, respiratory diseases and a higher risk of being overweight and obese.

Why is it important to protect the minds of our young people you ask? As someone who personally suffers from mild anxiety, I wasn’t too sure how to deal with it. However, upon the recommendation of my GP and personal research, I can personally vouch that an active lifestyle brings huge benefits to one’s mental health. Regular exercise is a fantastic way to boost your mood if you are suffering from depression and a great way for dealing with stress, procrastination and emotional ups and down.

Here at ukactive, we believe there is a very strong link between mental health management and physical activity; even NICE recommends physical activity in dealing with depression.

Being able to live an active lifestyle is very important, for everyone, but most especially for our young people who are still developing. This is why ukactive Kids was created, striving to work with any organisation who want to get more children, more active, more often. At the moment, ukactive Kids is working with 13,000 schools, head-teachers and school governors all around the UK.

We believe we can play a major role in shaping our young generation by introducing them to the ‘miracle cure’, which according to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges can help to treat, manage and prevent over 20 lifestyle conditions.

So how can we use physical activity to enable our young people to lead rich, fulfilling lives void of mental health
complications? This is one of the many questions we will be tackling at our annual National Summit on the 1st of November, bringing together top experts and sector leaders.