In the UK, one in four people suffer from a mental health problem each year, and in esports these issues are rarely spoken about.
Many pro-players and individuals involved in the esports industry struggle to maintain a positive mental attitude, but steps are being taken to change that.
There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about the impact that esports has on mental health, but here are just a few things to get these important conversations started.
Let’s get talking:
One of the main problems to tackle is the stigma around talking about mental health, and the esports industry is one of many still struggling to overcome that barrier.
Talking about mental health problems is normally a struggle for most people, and the lack of conversations happening around the topic really doesn’t help the cause.
Charities such as Safe in our World work to get people in the industry talking, as well as increasing awareness of mental health problems.
Recently, a lot of players and individuals within the industry have taken to social media to speak more about their mental health, whilst encouraging more people to follow suit.
This is a really important step for the industry, mainly because it gives some insight into the mental wellbeing of those working within esports.
Whilst this is still relatively new for esports, more people are gradually opening up to share their experiences with mental health – alongside how you can use esports to maintain a positive mental wellbeing.
Having the pressure of competing, practicing and succeeding is enough to knock back anyone, but a lot of professional esports players push through it.
Being in the public eye opens up opportunities for toxicity, meaning that a lot of players face criticism online regularly. Having this amount of toxicity aimed at you can be very detrimental to your mental health – making it really hard to stay positive.
An example of this is the recent events with Fnatic’s Gabriël ‘Bwipo’ Rau, who left social media following abuse towards himself and his partner.
These struggles are rarely spoken about in the industry, solely because it gets hidden away. People assume that being able to compete in esports for a living is a breeze, and never get to see the impact everything has on the players’ mental health.
It is only in recent months that organisations are taking initiative to put support measures in place – with the likes of Misfits prioritising the mental wellbeing of its players.
Making sure players are in a good mental place before competing makes all the difference, so promoting positive wellbeing allows players to perform better and become more comfortable.
Benefits of esports:
This is an obvious one, but positive impact that esports can have on your mental health is hardly ever spoken about.
Even though we have briefly touched on the struggles that come with the competitive side of esports, it is important to note that it is also an amazing avenue for wellbeing development.
In an interview earlier this year with disabled veteran Daniel ‘Bezzabing’ Bingley, he said: “Having a ‘positive mental attitude’ (PMA) is a life balance. I’m a big advocate of community fields, so when I do team sports I departmentalise and I extract from the real world, I am zoned in and being part of a community.
“The ethos is the same in esports. When you’re playing a game, there’s a number of factors that will go through your mind when you’re doing it. You want to participate, you want to achieve, you want to help each other, you don’t want to let each other down – these are fundamentals that we’re all engraved with,” he added.
People come to esports and gaming to relax and unwind; using it to benefit their mental health. Having this space to release any problems is really important, and more people should be highlighting the impact that esports can have on people.
These discussions are gradually happening more in the industry, but more needs to be done. Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing across esports allows people to open up about their struggles, and help others.
If you, or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, you can find help and advice from sites such as: Young Minds, Mind, Stem 4, Samaritans, or Checkpoint.
A full list of resources can be found here.