It's Okay to Not Be Okay. Gaming Can Help.
Living through a pandemic has impacted everyone. The isolation of quarantine or the uncertainty of what might happen next have taken their toll. Researchers at Brown University School of Public Health recently published their findings from a study on the mental health effects of the pandemic. Their research showed that depression rates have more than tripled compared to the rates prior to the pandemic. I have seen first-hand evidence of this in my work as a public school teacher. I have also noticed something else. I found that the students who are most affected by depression and suicidal thoughts are immersing themselves in video games. The games are giving them comfort and release from their symptoms. Back in March 2020, when the whole world shut down, there were people who struggled with isolation, yet I felt none of that. I believe it was because I played video games. May is Mental Health Awareness month and as we are slowly working our way out of this pandemic, I wanted to share why I think gaming is an important tool that has the potential of helping the influx of people suffering from depression.
Gaming can help people cope with feelings of isolation and anxiety. A recent Microsoft study looked at mental health and gaming during the pandemic and found that 84% of respondents agreed gaming has positively impacted their mental health. 71% said that gaming helped them feel less isolated. Video games have the potential of giving us a way to relax and escape the troubles of everyday life. Gaming also allows players to connect with others. Games are very good at helping players feel like their decisions are important, giving them a sense of power and control in a virtual space, and providing a sense of accomplishment. These are all things that help boost our mental wellbeing. They help counteract and temporarily silence the negative and self-degrading narratives that live in the depressed mind.
Next time you are feeling down, test the research for yourself. Load up a game that you enjoy and see if it helps you escape for a while. I know it works for me!