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Psychology  2018 

Applying Positive Psychology Principles to Soccer Interventions for People with Mental Health Difficulties

DOI: 10.4236/psych.2018.93023, PP. 372-384

Keywords: Football, Soccer, Mental Health, Positive Psychology, Exercise

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Adjunct exercise interventions for people with mental health difficulties have been shown to improve well-being while also increasing physical and social health. Soccer as a team sport is a particularly apt form of group-based exercise as it fosters social inclusion and communication skills potentially also across cultural and socio-economic barriers. We discuss how some exercise interventions such as those using soccer are potentially well-aligned with concepts from Positive Psychology such as Seligman’s five elements (PERMA) that determine “Eudaimonia” (a good life): Positive emotions (P), Engagement and Flow (E), Positive Relationships (R), Meaning (M), and Accomplishment (A). In the present study the perceived life improvements reported by participants of a London-based soccer intervention “Coping Through Football” (CTF) are analysed for content using these five elements. All but Meaning (M) could be identified clearly; Positive Relationship (R) and Accomplishment (A) were the most commonly reported components. The PERMA model offers a potentially highly relevant framework to measure changes in well-being in participants of adjunct physical exercise treatments in mental health. Further quantitative and qualitative evaluation using the PERMA categories has the clear potential to inform policy and funding decisions in the growing area of psychosocial interventions in public mental health.


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