Ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday, October 10, this campaign from The Community New York is addressing the issue of mental wellness in an unconventional way—through gaming.
While video games have suffered the stigma of glamorizing violence or feeding digital addictions, for many gamers, they’re a way to let off steam, a means to decompress and even develop meaningful connections with others. Some studies have shown that gaming is an area worth exploring in terms of its potential mental health benefits.
This effort, created in partnership with Esports company Skillshot and mental health organization Rise Above the Disorder (RAD), builds on that idea and invites players to partake in actual therapy sessions while they’re playing an actual game. It invites players to sign up for sessions, during which they’ll be matched up with therapists they can play with while they open up about what’s bogging them down in the real world. The campaign will also include psycho-education sessions for content creators that will be streamed on Twitch.
The idea centers on a model developed by RAD, which had been founded by a group of gamers focused on addressing mental health. The organization has helped more than 36,000 people with its universal mental health care system across 133 countries.
The organization’s founder, CEO Jason Docton, has endured mental health issues in the past, which led to the creation of Anxiety Gaming, the precursor to RAD. “Gaming has always been a home to me,” he said in a statement. “It’s where I met the greatest friends I’ve ever known, where I turned when I felt my anxiety and depression were becoming too much to endure. Teaming up on Gamer Therapy to bring healing to our community is an incredible honor and privilege. I’ve always believed in the ability of gaming to change and even save lives. Today, we’re sharing that with the world.”
“Some people also play games to self-medicate and better cope with anxiety, stress, and depression, especially during this pandemic,” added Skillshot CEO and Founder Todd Harris. “We’ve seen casual gamers, pro e-sports players and streamers all struggle with mental health.We know gaming can be a positive force for making the world a better place.”
The hope, added The Community CCO Frank Cartagena, is to make this program more than a campaign. “My personal goal would be to make Gamer Therapy a clinically accepted practice, just like going to your therapists office is today.”