Video games and mental health management aren’t known to go hand in hand in a positive light by the masses. Gaming is the latest scapegoat in addictive digital and visual behaviour, although there’s little evidence to back this up. Covid-19 showed the world that we need to take mental illnesses seriously and look after our brains.
Depression and anxiety levels reached an all-time high in 2020 with the effects of lockdowns still being felt today from a child’s development to adults getting used to the forever changing new normals of modern-day life. Unfortunately, private health services know this too, and appointments are either hard to get or cost more, so people are now looking at alternative solutions to managing their mental health.
A New Depression and Anxiety Treatment? Video Games And Mental Health
We’re not medical professionals, and we wouldn’t dream of telling our readers to replace their current treatment or habits without seeking medical attention. However, there’s mounting evidence to suggest that video games could hold significant benefits for people looking for better ways to manage their mental health.
Verywell Mind reported on a new journal titled “JMIR Serious Games”, a study of the impact of commercial video games on depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns. It turns out that video games improve mental health outcomes. It seems there’s mounting evidence to suggest the opposite of gaming disorder or gamer brain, conditions that are backed with little evidence.
According to the study, video games could help alleviate symptoms of depression such as the loss of pleasure. It states that games such as Minecraft and Animal Crossing: New Horizons fostered social connectedness and reduced loneliness.
Glenn Platt, PhD, professor of emerging technology and director of the interactive media studies program at Miami University in Ohio, adds to the credibility of this study by stating the following:
“Video games provide connection, a critical aspect of mental health, feeling like you are part of a community of like-minded people who value your participation and share your goal within the game. Isolation, as the authors’ outline, plays a significant role in anxiety and depressive disorders. The support of a community within a game ecosystem mitigates this”
The study saw decreased anxiety levels too. People who played Plants vs. Zombies four times a week for around half an hour each session experienced better mental health outcomes than those who were taking prescribed medication. Let’s just take a second to realise how groundbreaking that really is.
The full journal can be found here with the following subtitle:
“A multidisciplinary journal on gaming and gamification including simulation and immersive virtual reality for health education/promotion, teaching, medicine, rehabilitation, and social change”
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