School sport participation during adolescence and mental health in early adulthood

J Adolesc Health. 2014 Nov;55(5):640-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.04.018. Epub 2014 Jun 10.


Purpose: This longitudinal study examined the association between participation in school sport during adolescence and mental health in early adulthood.

Methods: Adolescents (n = 853) reported participation in school sport in each grade throughout the 5 years of secondary school. In early adulthood, participants reported depressive symptoms, level of stress, and self-rated mental health.

Results: Involvement in school sport during adolescence was a statistically significant predictor of lower depression symptoms, lower perceived stress, and higher self-rated mental health in young adulthood.

Conclusions: School sport participation may protect against poor mental health in early adulthood. Policies to increase school sport participation may be warranted as part of public health strategies to promote mental health.

Keywords: Adolescence; Depression; Mental health; School sport; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Concept
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult