sport news TRACEY CROUCH: Sport is a great way to combat loneliness and boost mental health trends now
Tracey Crouch, the Member of Parliament for Chatham and Aylesford, is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Tackling Loneliness and Connected Communities, and previously held the post of Sport Minister.
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, she has written exclusively for Sportsmail on the important role sport plays in boosting mental health and combatting loneliness.
Loneliness is no rarity in society. As the theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, loneliness is one of the major issues facing societies around the world. And the pandemic, has changed our social connections forever.
Even now, with post-COVID restrictions easing, research from the Campaign to End Loneliness makes for stark reading, with 3.3million (6.3 per cent) people saying they feel 'chronically lonely' often or always.
The tolls of lockdowns and social separation have stuck for many.
Tracey Crouch MP, former Sport Minister, has written on the importance of sport to boost mental wellbeing to mark Mental Health Awareness Week
Crouch on the pitch showing off her skills during a game for the women's parliamentary team
The UK is in the midst of a growing mental health crisis, heightened by the pandemic - but the evidence is clear that being active is good for our minds.
Active lifestyles are credited with 30million fewer GP visits and 375,000 fewer people being diagnosed with depression annually.
Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University valued the role of sport and physical activity to the nation's wellbeing, as £42billion per year – more than three times the total NHS spending on mental health in England in 2018.
Recognising the scale and severity of the issue, the right interventions for all ages are now needed more than ever. This is where I believe sport and physical activity can be instrumental.
I watch, participate and once coached sport, as well as having served as Sport Minister, so I know first-hand how life changing sport and physical activity can be for happiness, resilience and wellbeing.
It's the social connections you make through sport and