Playing the mental health game

As a young person growing up, I often had periods of severe self-doubt and although I was an average student, good at a lot of things, I always felt I was coming up just short of where everyone else was. As a grown adult, I still have to work at staying in a positive frame of mind about myself, my work and life in general. I am my own best friend and worst enemy at times.

I don’t think I am unique at that. I reckon a lot of people have these fleeting moments or lingering niggling doubts. Some of us find ways to play with them and stay on our track, even if at times we need help from specialists and other people. Others withdraw into isolation, thinking that they shouldn’t bother anyone.

This morning over breakfast I read the story of Billy, who basically locked himself away for nearly 7 years and just gamed and lived online. What struck me about the story was that it was so easy to fall into this way of living.

The very fact that a board game is also instrumental in breaking the cycle, is a positive one I feel. Creating a game take helps you to work through cycles of mental issues especially when gaming addiction was in the mix I think is inspired.

In the world today, it may well be the way forward for mental health and other things that don’t function well in society. Board games allow for social play and communication. I also see the function of robots and talking devices having a role to play for when there are no humans around and you may need to express yourself.

Feeling isolated is a self-perpetuating behaviour, especially when your coping mechanism is to withdraw. Doing the opposite and joining people in a social setting is not easy to do, it will take some courage. Yet coming to it with a joint known element like a game even if it is new, learning to play is probably something most gamers can master.

It is great to hear of stories that cover both sides of the same coin in the world of gaming. On one side the addiction and on the other games for good. Both can be online and offline. Many games build on psychological triggers and in gamification, I see a lot of applied cognitive behavioural therapy resemblances. Given the right support system coming with the games, it can also be a powerful device for recovery and self-management.

I applaud these initiatives and hope that we will see many more of them going forward.

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