The benefits of engaging young people in physical education within a mental health unit setting

By Zoe Cross (Pilgrim Pathways' PE mentor).

The impact of physical education on young people’s mental health has been widely researched and has produced some profound findings. We know that physical activity reduces mental fatigue, increases motivation, lowers our risk of depression and enables children to express themselves through movement.

As well as this, it gives children the opportunity to work with others, understand how their strengths can impact a team and empower them to make decisions with confidence.


Over the last 12 weeks, I have had the privilege to work with the Pilgrims Pathway School in providing a national curriculum PE offer to children from the ages of five to eighteen. We have been able to offer a one to one bespoke program that is able to accommodate each individual child’s needs in order for them to participate to the best of their ability. With every week that has gone by, I have seen each child grow in their own way.

Their ability and understanding of cricket, basketball and football has been evident, and I know this by their willingness to ask questions, try new techniques and their success in completing multiple adapted tasks within each sport. I have also seen their progression through my weekly reviews, where I have recorded each session and their engagement levels.

However, the most evident improvement I have seen has been in their communication skills, confidence and willingness to adapt; three vital skills which are needed in all areas of life. Every twenty minute lesson has provided a safe environment for each child to stretch themselves, fail and set clear goals for them to reach.

I do my job role because I am passionate about sport, and I believe that everybody should have access to physical education. I have experienced the benefits of physical activity myself and I have seen the benefits it can have on those around me.

The Pilgrims Pathway School is blazing a trail in providing opportunities for young people to take part in physical education and offer a well-rounded, holistic approach to mental health. By offering children the chance to take part in PE, we are providing them with sustainable and healthy skills that they can continue to use for years after their education.


  Published on 25 June 2023 By Zoe Cross