Adventurous Play: A Prevention For Anxiety

Aug 01, 2022, 01:29 PM

As part of ACAMH’s celebration of Playday, the national day for play (3 August 2022), we are joined by Professor Helen Dodd to discuss child mental health and the importance of adventurous play.

DOI: 10.13056/acamh.20778

For this podcast, in celebration of Playday (celebrated each year across the UK on the first Wednesday in August), we are joined by Professor Helen Dodd, Professor of Child Psychology in the College of Medicine and Health at the University of Exeter. The focus of this podcast is on child mental health and the importance of adventurous play.

As Playday encourages families, communities, and organizations to consider how they can build better opportunities for all children to play, Helen sets the scene by giving a brief overview of why play is so critical for children and young people.

Helen talks to us about how the pandemic has affected children’s play, before turning to her research on adventurous play and why she sees adventurous play as an antidote to anxiety.

Helen also discusses her recently published data that shows a link between adventurous and outdoor play and children’s mental health, as well as explains why she suggests that adventurous play itself can mitigate the risk of anxiety and explores her hypothesis that adventurous play targets some of the specific cognitive behavioural factors associated with child anxiety.

Helen further comments on her research into parental attitudes, including what interventions and campaigns can help change parental attitudes to adventurous play for overinvolved or anxious parents, as well as discusses how avoidant children and inhibited children can be supported to become more adventurous.

Furthermore, Helen shares her message to educators, CAMH professionals, policymakers, and other stakeholders when it comes to facilitating children to play in ways that may better support their mental health.