What the coronavirus and resilience have in common
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Until now, the impact of psychosocial programmes has often been underestimated, considered unmeasurable or even unimportant by many actors in international development.

Crises show us how vulnerable we are, as in the current coronavirus crisis. Routines are broken and freedoms are restricted to save lives. Everyday structures disappear completely or change noticeably. And now we realise – we are much less in control than we would like.

But let’s look ahead. What can we learn from the crisis for the future? And what role will sport and play be given in the post-corona age?

It is natural in times like these to focus all our attention on the threat, which makes it seem far worse and more frightening than it might be. And yet the thought of our own vulnerability and the threat to our family triggers stress, anxiety and sometimes panic.

Is there a positive side to this? Absolutely, because people are crisis-resistant. We have the resources to deal with such extraordinary circumstances and to adapt to new circumstances.

In the best case scenario, in a crisis we realise how resilient we are. Resilience describes the ability to survive difficult life situations without lasting impairment. How long this process of adaptation takes varies from person to person, however – and for some it does not even begin.

Psychosocial support as a serious factor

It is also in such crisis situations that we might wish we had already done more to protect our mental well-being. Until now, the impact of psychosocial programmes has often been underestimated, considered unmeasurable or even unimportant by many actors in international development.

We can only hope that psychosocial health will be taken more seriously internationally in future, as in other areas of life and work. Learning strategies for maintaining resilience is relatively easy. Its benefits are noticeable in coping with everyday life but above all in crisis situations, in which it is even essential for survival.

Promoting resilience through sport and play

COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the psychosocial health of many people. These people should be supported in their mental health recovery. Sport and play is a universally applicable instrument for promoting psychosocial health, which the Swiss Academy for Development (SAD) pioneered and continues to apply in its work.

The approach assumes that people are playful beings and are willing to learn about sport and play. This is primarily experience-based, action-based learning, which has been proven to lead to changes in cognition and behaviour.

SAD has been using sport and play to promote psychosocial health for about 10 years. Participants learn and practice experience-based life skills related to psychosocial health and resilience through sport and play-based exercises.

They take part in an exercise and then reflect on it in the group. Afterwards, the participants build connections between the exercise and their lives and try to apply what they have learned.

Using sport and play successfully despite social distancing

In the context of corona discussions, you hear the argument time and again that sport or games are badly equipped, since physical interaction is a prerequisite. In our experience, however, this is only partly true. Sport and play can promote psychosocial health during and after the corona crisis.

It is not necessarily the type of sport or game or the physical closeness that is important but the attitude and method with which sport and play is applied. With a clear goal in mind, in this case psychosocial health and a structured use of sport and play, our many years of experience has shown the approach is ideally suited for promoting psychosocial health and managing psychosocial problems.


Does not apply
All sports
Sustainable Development Goals
3 – Good health and well-being
Target Group
Does not apply

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