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Mental Health VS Gaming

When taking a deep breath can’t calm someone’s anxiety or the stress has become too much, a couple minutes on a video game can be a good way for someone to calm down. It can help distract them from their worries long enough so that they can realign themselves.

“I think [gaming] can be [a good way to cope] when used correctly,” FHN Counselor Kyle Harris said. “For example, I think a person with anxiety sometimes doing a puzzle game or something that is relaxing and calming. I think that can be a good way to temporarily distract from those feelings that they’re struggling with.”

Gaming affects everyone differently and everyone uses it for different reasons, whether it be to de-stress or to distract from reality. For some, it’s a positive influence on their mental health and a negative one for others.

“It has a lot of different effects,” Harris said. “I mean, there are positive aspects of gaming for stress relief for brain activity for a variety of different things that can kind of help ease some mental health problems but on the other end, it can also feed into some mental health problems of being a distraction from important things in life.”

For teachers, gaming mainly has a positive impact on their mental health and tends to be used as a way to de-stress in their free time. They use it when they have a second of free time after a long day of work.

“[Gaming has] actually helped my mental health because it gives me a stress release,” FHN teaacher Larry Green said. “Something I can also keep competing on, I love competing. So the video game is just another way for me to compete with strategies, kind of stretch my mind to think about other things.”

While gaming serves the same purpose for some students, others may use gaming as a way to escape from reality and their responsibilities. This makes them more susceptible to mental health problems related to gaming and addiction. The WHO reports that up to 3% of people who game suffer from a gaming addiction

“[Students will] sit down and they’ll be like, ‘I’m gonna play just for 20 or 30 minutes’ and then five hours goes by,” Harris said. “A lot of that can cause things where you’re too exhausted to do work, or you miss deadlines, because you’re so focused on being caught up in whatever game you’re playing that you lose track of things that are probably pretty important to take care of.”

According to Harris, gaming can be good for your mental health in regulated quantities. But when it becomes too much, it can cause serious damage. Five more minutes turns into three hours. Plans are canceled. Relationships begin to falter. There is a problem.

“[Gaming] can feed into some mental health problems of being a distraction from important things in life,” Harris said. “It can cause people to feel some instances of depression or loneliness. These are things that can come from just becoming too dependent on gaming as a release or a thing that you go to.”

People may joke and be flippant about gaming addictions, but they don’t realize the impact that it truly can have on someone’s mental health. Gaming doesn’t only have the possibility of worsening mental health problems, it can cause it in someone who doesn’t have any. In 2021, the WHO officially classified Video Game Addiction as a mental health disorder.

“[Gaming has a negative effect] when I’m playing it till like three in the morning,” senior Nicholas Hessel said. “Because of it, I tend to stay up and I get a bit paranoid.”

Whether gaming is used as a way to de-stress or to cope with mental health problems, there is not one set way that gaming can affect someone’s mental health. Everyone plays video games for different reasons and everyone is impacted differently by it.

“I would really hesitate to say to someone that ‘oh, just play a game that’s going to be your solution to that problem,’” Harris said. “It’s a way to temporarily calm someone down so that then they can actually start addressing those issues. You know, just playing a game by itself is not going to solve your anxiety, anger or depression problems.”

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