Videogames and mental health

Videogames and mental health

Hello there. How have you been? It’s been a while since I last posted a blog. The last blog was about self-isolation and home exercises, and was published on 14th April (watch this space as I have recently purchased some home exercise equipment and in a few weeks I may be publishing a videoblog exploring that):

Apart from that I did a videoblog on 24th April about coronavirus and how you are coping.

So what have I been up to since then? And what is it about the title for the latest blog? Well, I have been quite busy.

In the last 9-10 weeks, I have been seeing an increased workload, with more people’s mental health and wellbeing being effected by the lockdown and Covid-19. Like a marathon, many of us were ok at the start, but now we are getting sore and tired and we need to rest….but the finishing line is out of sight. And the fact that it is uncertain and out of sight adds to a lot of anxieties which people are experiencing.

I have explored anxiety and coronavirus in my videoblog which I published on 21st March. It is a short video and if you have time give it a watch. I understand that at this time that anxiety and depression and mental health are, for many, intertwined, as we are spending a lot more time in lockdown, some of with others but not with family and friends, some of us alone, some of us ill, some of us not, but many of us finding it increasingly difficult.

In my blog published on 31st March I looked at how astronauts concentrate and occupy themselves in confinement, thinking how some of their mental thought approaches help them to withstand long periods of isolation. Again, its a short read if you get the chance.

So why all the mentions of the previous blogs and videoblogs? Is it a bit of cheeky self-promotion, a bit of a nudge to get you to read my other blogs and view my videoblogs? Maybe, but in this instance this is not my core motivation.

My motivation in this instance is to show that I have an interest in exploring mental health and how the lockdown and Covid-19 has been affecting people.

And over the past 9-10 weeks I have been working with more people affected by the situation, coming home late sometimes, needing a nap to recharge or a walk to reflect.

I have also been heavily involved in my studies. I am studying a Nurse Prescribing course. I have an exam in July and a portfolio to complete. When my time is not taken up by work, it is divided between helping my partner and my studies.

And part of helping my partner is helping her with her son, a really good kid with a great imagination. Being in lockdown we have been doing home schooling, and I take my hat off to parents who are working from home and home schooling. It is not easy and it comes with its challenges.

One challenge which we are being faced with is between home schooling sessions he plays videogames, mostly driving games, and we see how he becomes transfixed and how his behaviour becomes more irritable when asked to finish with the computer games, for the purpose of returning back to home schooling, or at the end of the school day, to help with things around the house.

Which got me thinking about videogames and mental health…..and whether there is something there that can be discussed and looked into.

I know that for some, videogames and mental health may be a strange and slightly contentious issue. Some may say, “Oh come on now this is silly, I play computer games and I am fine. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

And you may have a point. For many of us, we can play videogames and we will be ok. And especially during lockdown when we are inside, we are on social media more, and playing more videogames. And for many of us, we can play videogames and be ok.

But for some of us this may not the case.

Von Der Heiden et al (2019) explore the association between video gaming and psychological functioning. I will include it in the reference, but if you would like the link to the article (it is a bit of a read but full of juicy data if that’s your thing):

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676913/

In their research, the findings that they come to include holding the views that:

  1. There is a suggestion for the potential problematic use of videogames and emergence of depression, anxiety and hostility.
  2. Coping strategies such as self-blame and behavioural disengagement were seen
  3. Some preferred solitude, shyness and loneliness, experiencing lower self-esteem and poor perceived social support.

Whilst these findings are not exhaustive and you can find more information in the article, it does suggest that there is a suggestion of the problematic nature that videgames may play in mental health and development.

Greenberg et al (2010) suggest problematic videogaming is seen more in males than females. Rehbein et al (2016) support the view held by Greenberg et al and go on to suggest that problematic gaming is also seen amongst younger gamers.

Which begs the questions: why are males and younger gamers more prone to experiencing problematic functioning behaviour and functioning as a result of gaming, and what can be done about it?

Ryan et al (2006) and Yee (2006) hold the view that some videogamers want to distract themselves from daily problems and wish to escape as a way of coping. Other suggestions are that gamers may experience personal satisfaction and see it as a form of competition, with the competition element seen in males more than females.

So what can we do about it?

Well, for one, talking about it is a start.

If you are concerned for the mental health and wellbeing of yourself, another, or your children, a place to start is to talk about it. Talk about how it is making you feel seeing how other the person is being affected by videogames. Does the person have insight into their relation between playing videogames and their mental health? If not, this may be an opportunity to have that discussion.

What else is going on in their life?

Is there something which they are trying to get away from? Is there something worrying them and is is possible that they are using games as form of distraction and escape? Have a talk and explore what may worrying them and what may be on their mind. Maybe have a talk about things which you can do together to help them from isolating and potentially not engaging.

Winding down.

If it is the end of the day, it may be worth considering winding down, having less sugar, less caffiene, and preferably less or no gaming. Give the body and mind time to cool off. The last thing you want is to have a restless mind and body before bed, as it may result in disrupted sleep and effected mood and concentration the day after.

What are others doing?

If you have friends who have been going through this or you know others with children who are worried about their children and videogames, it may be worth having a chat with them and to explore their views and things which worked for them and may not have worked for them.

I hope you have found this blog to be of use. During lockdown we will be spending more time indoors, and this may involve spending more time in front of the TV and playing video games, but I still think that it is still important to have these discussions and to look at how to support one another. Whilst we may be looking for some short term escape today, we have to look at what this means longterm, and how to better support one another.

If you are still concerned though for the wellbeing of another due to games or any other reason please talk to your GP. There is help out there, and it is ok to ask for it.

Alternatively there is Samaritans. Freephone 116123.
You are not alone.

It is ok to talk.

Also, on a more health related note: if you are showing with symptoms of the coronavirus though, please seek medical advice and support from your local health authorities. The general recommendation if you are symptomatic is to place yourself in quarantine until such time as the virus has passed. But please, still follow the guidelines of your local health authority and seek reliable and valid information sources for your forms of information, such as the World Health Organization or your local health care authority.

I would like to finish off on a slightly lighter note, with a short little video I found about washing hands. Especially at this time, if it going out, or doing sit ups at home, remember to wash your hands.

Babylon. YouTube.

Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely time wherever you are on the planet.

And remember: love yourself. And others.

References:

Greenberg B. S., Sherry J., Lachlan K., Lucas K., Holmstrom A. (2010). Orientations to video games among gender and age groups. Simul. Gaming.

Rehbein F., Staudt A., Hanslmaier M., Kliem S. (2016). Video game playing in the general adult population of Germany: can higher gaming time of males be explained by gender specific genre preferences? Comput. Hum. Behav. 

Ryan R. M., Rigby C. S., Przybylski A. (2006). The motivational pull of video games: a self-determination theory approach. Motiv. Emot. 

Von der Heiden JM., Braun B., Müller KW., Egloff B (2019).The Association Between Video Gaming and Psychological Functioning. Front Psychol. 

Yee N. (2006). Motivations for play in online games. Cyberpsychol. Behav. 

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A bit about the author:

I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders. 

Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.

I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders. 

In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course, and in 2020 I commenced further training in Nurse Prescribing to train toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.

In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.

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