Social Benefits and Mental Health

It is evident that the social determinants of health, specifically social inclusion, have a strong impact on mental health in the younger population.

The pro-social community of skateboarding as a vehicle for mental health was discovered through research performed by Burt in 2011.

Burt published an article exploring the wellbeing benefits of creative hobbies in the older population. The significance of this trial was the emphasis that social inclusion can be fulfilled through creative hobbies (Burt, 2011), therefore a creative hobby such as skateboarding, could act as a therapeutic method for mental health in the younger population.

Supporting the notion of social inclusion within skateboarding was identified by Goldenberg, who performed a survey with over 150 skateboarders in 2009. The trial uncovered what skateboarders value the most out of skateboarding. Goldenberg reported that 2 of the top 7 most salient outcomes identified by skateboarders were in terms of social inclusion, camaraderie and social opportunities. The trial by Goldenberg showed how the interpersonal social factors satisfied by skateboarding are an important outlet for positive youth development.

To further support the evidence, in a trial by Wood in 2014, observational data was gathered from a skatepark in Perth, Australia. This data included the frequency of pro-social behaviours such as: socialising with friends, taking turns, respecting others, and helping each other. These frequent pro-social behaviours within skateboarding are what can form social support networks to potentially benefit mental health in the younger population. Wood’s result of social inclusion within skateboarding reflects qualitative data found through the lived experience of skateboarders.

Underlying how skateboarding satisfies social inclusion is the reason that minimal barriers to entry, and therefore a non-existent social class hierarchy within skateboarding, is present (Humbert, 2006).

Since skateboarding does not marginalise individuals, there is a form of social justice whereby the inclusion allows skateboarders to live free from discrimination and not constrained to a social gradient (Burt, 2011). Skateboarding provides an increasingly rare sense of belonging for children.

In the words of Ellis Watt “The skateboarding community is known as one of the most welcoming communities as regardless of someone’s health, gender, race or age everyone shares a passion, skateboarding. This may be the reason why it is such a supportive space as every skateboarder wants to see each other succeed and will support one another to do that”.