The impact of army football on soldiers’ mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 9th-15th May 2022, and this year the theme is loneliness. This year’s theme aims to raise awareness of the impact loneliness can have on our emotional and physical wellbeing, and the importance of finding new ways to keep feelings of isolation at bay during challenging times.

Members of HM armed forces are acutely aware of the positive effects belonging to a community can have on those facing mental health issues. The unique challenges of army life mean that many soldiers experience ongoing mental health challenges, and sports such as army football play a huge role in helping to ease the burden.

How do army sports help boost mental health?

Army sports are important to the emotional health of soldiers across the UK. Soldiers experience the same issues that affect the general population, as well as mental health disorders often triggered by active service such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

1In a recent study into soldiers’ mental health, 13% of those involved reported abusing alcohol and 4% reported symptoms of PTSD. In addition, almost 20% reported experiencing other widespread mental health issues such as depression. Team sports have always been encouraged as part of military life for both male and female soldiers, and they have a huge impact on the physical and emotional wellbeing of the armed forces.

Aside from the obvious physical benefits of training and playing regular sports between deployment, soldiers also benefit from the feeling of community attached to army football. Coming together as a team and competing for a shared goal reflects the heart of army life, and army sports men and women find it has a significant impact on their mental wellbeing. Serving soldiers are passionate about sports such as army football, boxing, rugby union, volleyball, and squash.

The army champions the personal development opportunities sports offer, and they recognise their ability to reduce stress levels, boost self-discipline, encourage leadership, inspire courage and help to create a sense of belonging to a team. Army sports also help soldiers to hone their confidence and coordination, and committing to a team is hugely beneficial for almost every aspect of mental health.

How army football helps to tackle loneliness

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual opportunity for us to focus on working towards better mental health, for ourselves and those around us. Army football and its role in the emotional wellbeing of those who play it is a fantastic example of what we can achieve when we create a sense of togetherness and work towards a shared goal.

If you’re not a member of the forces, why not research local sports teams in your area and sign up? Belonging to a team is a great way to make a positive change if you’ve been struggling with mental health issues. You’ll have the opportunity to become more active, make new friends and create a routine to give your week structure.

During the pandemic, sports such as army football had to be put on hold for months at a time – but that didn’t stop them from keeping their teams connected. Members of the Army Football Association’s teams organised a series of virtual events during the lockdowns, using their time to raise huge amounts of money for charity.

Even without physically playing, army football enabled soldiers to hold on to a crucial sense of belonging, proving a valuable support during testing times.

Our support for the Army Football Association

The Army Football Association (AFA) dates all the way back to 1888, and it promotes the development of army football at every level. Towergate Insurance are proud to have sponsored the AFA for almost 40 years, making it the longest-standing military sponsorship on record.

“Army Football is grateful for the continued Sponsorship, Towergate Insurance, has given to grassroots football for approaching 40 years. The Army Football Association is indebted to Towergate, our longest serving sponsor of our prestigious Army Challenge Cup competitions.  This outstanding support and contribution provided by Towergate Insurance, is welcomed by all soldiers and Regiments who enter into The Army Major and Minor Units Cup Competitions.

Towergate Insurance is a specialist insurance provider with over 60 years of experience providing tailor-made military insurance cover for armed forces personnel serving in the United Kingdom and abroad.” Major Billy Thomson, Secretary of the Army Football Association.

This is a marketing article by Towergate Insurance.

Sources:

1: mentalhealth.org.uk: Armed forces and mental health