Mental Health and the Big Impact of Gaming

Mental health is important for everyone. But can gaming help? If not what can help?

Almost everyone has either experienced mental health issues or know someone who has. For the sufferer it can turn their world upside down and for their friends/families it can have mixed effects.

Before we get into the meat of the topic, I am not trained in any way. I have only my experience to comment on and if you or someone you know is suffering make sure there is help available. Also the tips below will vary in how much they apply to each mental issue. Everyone is different and so is their mental health.

Games unfortunately are the not the complete solution. But they can help.

Escapism

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I’ve suffered with high anxiety and depression. Sometimes there isn’t an easy identifiable cause. While other times it feels like a huge mass on my shoulders which I know the cause. The effects can vary from just a worried thought in the back of my mind, to full blown panic attacks where all I can do is focus on that thought and nothing else.

Depending on the severity of my worry, games help me escape from the reality. Especially if the game has a world that I can get lost in for hours. If it is high severity, I’m normally switching between games feeling restless and cannot enjoy what I play.

Gaming is a great short term fix. But it should never be used instead of treatment. If you are struggling with mental issues, you need to get help from professionals. It has definitely helped me with my condition.

If Gaming Isn’t the Solution Where Should You Go?

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The very first port of call should be your Doctor. If you have a reasonable doctor they may be able to assist or refer you to people that can help. Normally this would be a psychiatrist. But for minor mental health issues they may be able to help you themselves. Such as putting you on a CBT programme and providing a prescription to help manage your issues.

Now if your doctor is unhelpful (my first doctor just brushed it off), there are two options:

  • Ask for a second opinion or
  • self refer

Depending on what country you live in, asking for a second opinion may be acceptable. The surgery should then provide another doctor to evaluate your needs and hopefully diagnose you. If they don’t provide a second opinion or the second opinion is the same you only have one option.

Self Referring

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Again this another location dependent option. Google is your friend. Search for any mental health clinics and see if you can self refer. Another option would be to check out local charities as they may provide the help themselves, or they can refer you to someone who can. Below is a list of some of the charities:

If your outside of the USA and UK then I would recommend doing a quick search to see if there are any in your location. A few may even be over multiple countries.

How Can I Help Friend/Relative?

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It can be hard when someone you know is suffering. There is no easy fix, and you feel completely useless. But there are things you can do to help them.

Do some research, the web is full of resources dedicated to mental illnesses. Many government websites also contain information and are a reliable resource. It would also be a good idea to either visit your local library or buy a book. Books generally have to have some sort of research behind them before they can be published and are a more reliable source of information. But, if the book is over 10 years old, try finding more recent books.

It can be frustrating. You may plan to go away with that person, and then their mental health issues prevent you from taking them with you. Regardless of how frustrated you are, they are probably frustrated as well. The key is to be patient with them. And if reasonable, help them avoid triggers or support them when they happen.

One thing I must stress, is their mental health isn’t your responsibility. Each of us have our own battles to win or lose. Without having to add their battles to yours. You can only point them in the right direction. If they refuse that help then you need to leave them to it. Fighting with a sufferer to get them help doesn’t help either you or them. As they will be less susceptible to the help in the end.

YouTube/Twitch and Mental Health

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If, like me, you watch a lot of YouTube or Twitch you will notice that many of the content creators suffer from mental health issues. These likely didn’t start from being in the public eye, but it would be interesting to research.

One of my favourite Jimmy Broadbent, does regular charity streams in support of MIND as well as other mental health charities. This really does shine a positive light on our community. And if you are in the position to help consider donating either via the streams or directly. Or if you are feeling really brave, start your own channel and host charity events.

Final Thoughts

Currently gaming is not the answer to mental health issues. It can certainly reprieve you from the effects but only for the short term. Make sure that either you or the sufferer gets the help they need. I promise the next post will have a happier tone.

Brendan Freeman
Brendan Freeman

A new dad, who loves his video games. he's been playing games since he was 2. He likes RPGs and racing games.

Articles: 115

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