No, BJJ won’t cure your depression but it might help

We are amidst a global mental health crisis. It is predicted that by 2020, someone will commit suicide every 20 seconds. The statistics regarding mental health are concerning, confusing and cause for panic, so it is only natural that we are clamoring to find ways to make things better. For some of us, myself included, grappling has been a force for good, but it’s important to remember that the mats shouldn’t be a substitute for seeking help.

Does rolling help? Absolutely, but it isn’t for everyone. One day you, your students, or your training partners might need more than just some exercise to feel better and as a community we need to be mindful of this. I have witnessed well-meaning people telling training partners just to “push through it” and train because “you regret the sessions you miss” and while this might be true, sometimes it is better to sort your life out off the mats before you get back on it.

Jiu Jitsu can provide a lot of positives for people struggling with mental health issues, it can provide them with camaraderie, a physical outlet for stress and just somewhere they can be themselves. The problem is that everyone’s struggle is different and some people will require professional help.

Grappling can be part of the solution for people trying to get better, but it should compliment medical health and not be used instead of it. Jiu jitsu can save lives, but a combined approach to mental health can save more. If someone you train with is struggling with mental health issues sign post them to help. Take the stigma out of depression and talk to people if you notice they aren’t being their usual selves.

Let’s come together and submit the stigma of depression and help each other heal.

Looking for help with a BJJ injury? Book an online video consultation with BJJ black belt and osteopath Rosi Sexton.

3 thoughts on “No, BJJ won’t cure your depression but it might help

  • February 17, 2019 at 8:41 am

    My wife has written what we think is the very first survey (we think) and study on bjj and its effect on depression and anxiety and ptsd compared to medication or other forms of treatment and the things she’s found out are actually really amazing. Surveyed around 1300 people who train in bjj and suffer from depression. Bjj absolutely makes a difference. We want to publish her paper but have no clue how lol

  • February 17, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Good article and great comment from Gavin. Would love to see that research too.
    As someone who specializes in Mental performance coaching for fighters and martial artists, while it’s clear that yes, training does help reinforce and build a strong sense of well being, it’s not a cure all. A reasonable percentage of fighter’s I work with also want to work on remedial/therapeutic issues as well.
    Can’t help but groan every time a picture of someone training pops up with the words “this is my church”.
    I have found, quite often clearing away these problems in the fighter leads to a clearer, less distracted mind, capable of better focus in and out of the fight academy.

    Additionally, given the fact that many men find it difficult to seek help for problems, it allows them an easier way to access help informally.
    I do not publicise anything remotely therapeutic on my site, instead just address the issues organically if and when I’m asked to.

    As a side note, I have drawn a great deal of philosophical knowledge from my study of Jiu Jitsu, and the countless number of metaphors for life that present themselves to me through training never ceases to amaze and bless me.

    Alan Whitton

Comments are closed.