Mental Health through Power of Play
Find out why Play is critical to paving the way to a healthy mind...
Play is self-care
Play evokes memories of childhood like little else. Whether hide-n-seek on family picnics, building sandcastles on the beach, football during lunch hour at school, tea-time in the toy kitchen under grandma’s bed, solving newspaper puzzles every Sunday, putting together a fancy car with empty matchboxes or talking to imaginary animals created by the shadows on the wall - play evokes a feeling of warmth and happiness. Play time has also been about self awareness, self-expression and most importantly, self-care. Every 10th of October, we keep reminding ourselves about the importance of mental health but forget to highlight that one clear path towards mental well-being is defined by play.
Mind loves Play
Anyone can engage in play. Any place is suitable for play. Any time is a good time to play. Yet not everyone has the opportunity to feel empowered by the power of play. Dr Stuart Brown, internationally renowned psychiatrist and clinical researcher collected the play histories of over 6000 adults and made some unexpected correlation between childhood play and antisocial behaviour in adulthood. He points out that often adults who had not engaged in simple ‘rough-n-tumble’ games in childhood lack social skills to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate levels of aggression. In fact, Toybank’s three year impact study in the Malvani area also indicates the drop in aggressiveness amongst children after they participate in our play sessions. Research around neurosciences and neurotransmitters is still developing but release of hormones such as dopamine, endocannabinoids, opiates and IGF-1 in the brain is perceived to be connected to play.
Play to heal
Play lets children gain a sense of agency by being in control. This enables them to become confident decision-makers in the future. Playful engagement also builds community through a sense of affiliation and belonging, thus becoming a stepping stone towards trust-building in relationships. What makes play an intrinsically joyful experience is the sense of safety that comes from being in a non-judgemental environment, just like our Play2Learn centres aim to create. While the pandemic-hit generation grapples with the crisis caused by mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and lack of motivation, it is imperative that we acknowledge play deprivation as the public health hazard that it truly is. Mainstreaming play is essential for healthy and happy childhoods that transition into fulfilling adult lives.