World Mental Health Day this weekend (Oct. 10) has seen many brands address a crisis that has come to the fore during the pandemic—teenage mental health and suicide. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is now the number two cause of death among people 15 to 24 years old, second only to car accidents. And in the country of Brazil, 77% of students stated feeling sad, anxious, or emotionally overwhelmed, according to social equity and humanitarian organization Lemman/Itaú Social Foundation.
One company that is doing something practical to help is Brazilian suicide prevention NGO Centro de Valorização da Vida (CVV), which has been working with agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made to train e-sports players to spot the sign of suicide in other players.
The idea is to train the young players themselves to be able to recognize when a friend or game partner may be at risk. The NGO’s specialists and volunteers connect with each team and talk to them for an hour to train them; the agency has already trained 10 squads in five different e-sports teams, and it now aims to train the players of the 48 teams in the largest Pro Evolution Soccer e-sports league in Brazil.
CVV is also providing video training aimed at gaming streamers and influencers, some of whom have already reached out to better help their fans. Anyone interested in the project can visit the website and find out how to become a "Life Gamer."
"We believe this is an efficient way to reach an audience that is typically more averse to conversations about mental health," said CVV volunteer Carlos Correia in a statement. "Youths talk to youths, and nearly all of them are playing online. It is extremely important that they learn how to help, listen without judging, and encourage their friends to reach out to the CVV or to a professional."
The campaign is the latest to explore the idea of gaming as mental health therapy. Last year, a campaign via The Community, created in partnership with Esports company Skillshot and mental health organization Rise Above the Disorder (RAD), invited players to partake in actual therapy sessions while they were playing an actual game. The Ad Council has also run a campaign encouraging gamers playing Guild Wars 2 to check in on their "guildmates."