Sport is good for their health

2015-10-27 06:00
Mental healthcare patients from Valkenberg, Lentegeur, Stikland and Alexandra compete in the water races on their sports day.

Mental healthcare patients from Valkenberg, Lentegeur, Stikland and Alexandra compete in the water races on their sports day.

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Nothing could beat the fun and activity as over 400 mental health patients gathered to participate in the annual interactive Mental Health Sports Day at the Hartleyvale Sports Stadium in Observatory.

Coinciding with Mental Well-being Month in October, the event has successfully taken place for the past 15 years and is arranged by the Occupational Therapy departments of the four psychiatric hospitals under the management of the Western Cape department of Health.

Each facility gets a turn to host the Mental Health Sports Day; this year is Valkenberg Hospital’s turn.

According to Adieba Gamiet, Assistant Director for the Occupational Therapy department at Valkenberg Hospital, the promotion of physical health and general wellness is an important aspect of Occupational Therapy. “Our clients need to be actively involved in the management of their health and welfare. Social engagement and meaningful activity have been recognised as crucial components for the well-being of mental health clients,” she says.

Gamiet added that events such as the Mental Health Sports Day, enables mental health clients to engage socially with fellow patients from the neighbouring psychiatric hospitals, which is an invaluable benefit to their development.

“Many of our clients have quite sedentary lifestyles while in hospital which leads to weight gain and the development of co-morbid medical conditions such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Physical activity and engagement counteracts the effects of this and contributes towards improving their general health.”

She explains that the sports day has been structured to include sports and activities for both the intellectually disabled (IDS) and general adult psychiatric (GAP) clients. “The games are selected to meet the varying requirements and abilities of our clients. Participants are encouraged to select the sport or activity they would like to participate in. Available games include sprints, target throw, tug-of-war and sack races. Soccer, table top games are available for the more competitive athletes.”

“Physical activities stimulate brain activity which has the ability to make one feel happier and more relaxed. This greatly benefits our mental health clients and enables them to engage socially, while improving their psychological skills,” she says.

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