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Sport protects mental health of children who experience trauma

Taking part in sport protects children who are abused or neglected from developing mental health problems in later life, according to a major public health study.

People who had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) but regularly played sports as children were less likely to have a mental illness as an adult, the study found. People who had traumatic childhoods were also more likely to be mentally healthy if they took part in sport as adults.

The study confirmed a strong link between ACEs, which include sexual and physical abuse, parental separation and living with domestic violence, and mental illness as an adult. It said people who had four or more ACEs were four times more likely to be receiving treatment for current mental illnesses and 10 times more likely to have self-harmed or felt suicidal than those who had experienced none.

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