Video games are a great way to unwind and blow off some steam at the end of a long and hard day. They help us de-stress and transport us to a whole new world of adventure and fun. But it can be so much more than that: over 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental health issues and video games can be a huge benefit to sufferers.

Video games have some amazing neurological benefits, but for people who suffer from mental health problems, they’re also breaking the stigma. We know one of the best ways to understand something is by talking about it and many video games coming out tackle issues surrounding mental health. Let’s see how video games can benefit those with mental health issues.

Mental Health Benefits of Gaming

A study from Oxford University shows that retro game Tetris can help prevent the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. The game is said to prevent flashbacks after a traumatic incident. Similarly, gamers who delve into online casino may be improving their overall brain function and staving off memory-related poor mental health: evidence has shown that people who engage in card games – such as online Blackjack with Mr Green – are far less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, as such games exercise the short-term memory and keep the mind working.

Some mental health issues come as a result of other health issues – chronic pain, for example. People who suffer from these persistent illnesses often also suffer from depression and anxiety. Virtual reality games have been found to act as a strong form of pain relief. Patients who played these games reported feeling less stress and pain when immersed in the game due to the endorphins released while playing. In turn, this can help to ease the burden of depression and anxiety, when the sufferer has their pain taken away for a while.


Representation and Breaking the Stigma

Video games are getting more and more realistic and we’re not just talking graphics-wise. It is increasingly common for them to feature characters who suffer from common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and this can help those who suffer in real life.

One example is Life is Strange, a decision-making video game set in a college. The protagonist can rewind time and each of the choices you make as the player have in-game consequences. The game tackles the heavy issue of suicide and even has a pop-up with resources to use if you struggle with depression and anxiety.

Another video game tackling mental health is Underworld: Senua’s Sacrifice, set in an Ancient Celtic era where the protagonist suffers from psychosis. It was praised and even won 5 BAFTAs for the representation of the stigmatised and often misunderstood illness.


Representation is hugely important in breaking a stigma, starting a conversation and helping the world to understand mental health issues. As well as a fun way to pass the time or unwind, video games are a powerful way to help with mental health issues and shine a light on the effects. Today we discussed just a few of the video games that help to do this and, with the issue of mental health becoming a less taboo topic, there will surely be many more to come.

 Posted by Charlotte on January 2, 2019 Uncategorized  Add comments

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