When I first started scuba diving one of the biggest impacts on me was how relaxed I felt after having a dive. I had a very high pressured job and would feel very stressed by the end of the week, as soon as I was in the water and after my first dive of the weekend I would come out completely relaxed and back to normal. Everything in the world felt great again and my headaches would also be gone. I have commented on this to other divers for years and many have had very similar experiences.
There is a spectrum of mental health levels with both short term and long term illnesses. To cushion the affects professionals advise socializing and physical interactions with the environment among other things, these two in particular embrace scuba diving.
A study conducted by the University of Sheffield's Medical School supports the claim that diving impacts levels of anxiety, depression and social functioning. The study sheds light on scuba diving as a therapeutic aid while demonstrating the positive impacts it poses.
Physical activity. Scuba diving is essentially moving slowly underwater. As you begin to dive you put your body and muscles into work, all of which improves mental health.
Mindfulness. All divers actively engage their minds while diving underwater. They make clear decisions and manage events, all of which involves the mind. Since breathing is the biggest part of diving you learn to focus your breathing by inhaling and exhaling in a meditative way which in turn helps your mind to relax and stay calm. When underwater you're surrounded by a peaceful kind of calm and silence that allows you to flow with the environment.
Easy socialization. Scuba diving is an easy way to stop people isolating themselves and brings people together. There is a common ground and an avenue for people to bond and enjoy scuba diving wether it is on diving trips or dive courses.
The marine life encounters. Life underwater brings a calming effect to the heart and brain. The colours, underwater scenery and different species of aquatic life brings you delight and calm. Colours naturally lift the human mood and stimulate happy chemicals in the brain which then also improve the mood.
Fitness. Scuba diving builds physical fitness and improves endurance. This water workout helps your mind stay sharp and ready while also helping the muscles and joints.
Scuba diving is relaxing and encompassing, it fosters self-reliance and therefore it is good for individuals with mental health challenges. So yes scuba diving does affect mental health and very positively too. Scuba diving acts as a kind of therapy and can have major benefits in aiding mental health.
If you intend to go all out and embrace something new then scuba diving is a great idea.