Sunday, 23 September 2007

Angels with dirty faces?

Throw away cod science for a Sunday evening.

A couple of days ago I came across an article published earlier this year in an issue of Neuroscience.

Apparently researchers at the University of Bristol and colleagues at University College London found that the treatment of mice with a 'friendly' bacteria, normally found in the soil, altered their behaviour in a way similar to that produced by antidepressant drugs.

Dr Chris Lowry, lead author on the paper from Bristol University, said: "These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt."

Well quite.

But this set me thinking. A recent report by the children's charity NCH claimed that One in 10 young people suffers from significant mental health problems amongst which were a significant number of cases of depression and anxiety.

You will have joined the dots by now.

A glib summary would suggest chucking miserable children into a muddy pit until their mood improves.

A more serious thought is as to whether the change in the patterns of activities undertaken by children is having an effect on their psychological wellbeing? The physical effects of ‘Couch Potatodom’ are clear but could a reduction in the creation of mud pies really be mentally harming?


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Quite possibly, I think!

Liz said...

On holiday I was playing in the sea, leaping about and being knocked over by the waves - and laughing. My behavious was quite unlike anything I would do on dry land. Far more child-like, as a child is supposed to be. And wonderful. It's not only couch potatoism but wrapping in cotton wool that limits our children.