Mental Health
Syrian sisters Zeinab and Rayan practice Taekwondo during lockdown at their home in Azraq refugee camp, Jordan. Courtesy: UNHCR

Sport Can Boost Mental Health In COVID-19 Pandemic

May 23, 2020

The Olympic Refugee Foundation (ORF) said that sport can help build resilience and boost the mental health of forcibly displaced young people, especially during the COVID?19 pandemic.

ORF Chair and IOC President Thomas Bach, and UNHCR Vice-Chair Filippo Grandi, warned of the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of refugees and others.

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Refugees are among the most vulnerable to the consequences of the pandemic, they said in a joint statement.

They often reside in overcrowded camps, settlements and urban areas in cramped conditions, the statement added.

They don't have adequate access to fresh water and hygiene supplies, the statement said.

Mental conditions amongst people affected by conflict are already two or three times higher than in the general population.

One in five people among them experiences mental health challenges.

The ORF, in a meeting recently, took all these into account and agreed on a number of initiatives to boost the protection of forcibly displaced young people.

The organisation also decided to help these young people improve their psychological wellbeing.

The ORF has decided to launch a pilot project in Uganda, using sport to improve the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of more than 10,000 young people aged 15 to 24.

The programme will deliver a nationwide Sport for Protection programme.

“Over the last few months in the current crisis, we have all seen how important sport and physical activity are for physical and mental health," said Thomas Bach.

Sport can save lives. Safe sport provides mental and physical wellbeing for all,” Bach added.

"The Olympic Refuge Foundation has rightly identified the important contribution that sport can make to psychosocial wellbeing," said Filippo Grandi.

"The The Olympic Refuge Foundation is accelerating its work to address this growing challenge,” Grandi added.

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