Mental Health



Mandy Kloppers

The Role of Games in Tackling Stigma Around Mental Health


Our mental health is a crucial aspect of our well-being, but it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Despite the growing awareness and conversations about mental health, the stigma surrounding it still exists in many cultures and societies. 

This stigma, be it financial aspects or other social reasons, often prevents people from seeking help, leading to long-term negative consequences. However, one innovative way to tackle this stigma that most of us might be overlooking is through the use of games. 

In this blog post, we will explore the role of games in breaking down the barriers around mental health and how de-stressing through mobile games can be a powerful tool in transforming the way we think about our mind’s well-being. 

The Power of Games in Reducing Stigma 

Whether it’s something as simple and casual as Candy Crush Saga or as complicated yet exciting as Elden Ring, games have always been an escape for many people. They provide an outlet for stress and offer an immersive experience that takes people away from their daily problems. 

But what’s great about games is that they go beyond entertainment. Some games also serve as a way to raise awareness and educate people about mental health. By incorporating mental health themes into games, game developers can help normalize conversations about mental health and create empathy and understanding around it. 

For example, games like “Depression Quest” and “Anxiety Attack” offer players a chance to experience what it’s like to live with depression and anxiety, respectively. These games allow players to make choices and see the consequences of their decisions, helping them to empathize with people who struggle with mental health conditions. 

Games as a Tool for Relaxation 

In addition to breaking down stigma, games can also be used as a tool for de-stressing. Many mobile games, for instance, offer players a chance to relax and unwind after a long day. These games are designed to be simple, easy to play, and provide a sense of accomplishment without being too challenging. 

De-stressing through mobile games is a great way to improve your mental well-being, especially for those who struggle with anxiety or depression. Games like “Crossy Road” and “Among Us” might seem trivial, but they offer a moment of relief and distraction from the worries and stresses of everyday life. 

Gamification of Therapy 

Another way games can be used in mental health is through the gamification of therapy. Therapy can be intimidating for many people, and games can provide a more comfortable and enjoyable way to engage in therapy-like activities. 

For example, virtual reality games have been used to treat anxiety disorders, allowing patients to face their fears in a controlled and safe environment. Similarly, games like “MindHabits” and “SuperBetter” use game mechanics to help players develop positive habits and cope with mental health challenges. The gamification of therapy can make it more accessible, engaging, and effective for those who may not feel comfortable with traditional therapy methods. 

The Positive Impact of the Gaming Community 

In addition to the impact of the games themselves, the gaming community has also played a significant role in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health. Many gamers have shared their own experiences with mental health challenges, such as anxiety or depression, and have found support and understanding within the gaming community. 

Social media platforms like Reddit and Twitter provided a space for gamers to connect with others who had similar experiences and offer support and encouragement. This sense of community and belonging can be a powerful source of comfort and strength for those struggling with mental health issues.

Streamers and content creators have used their platforms to raise awareness and educate their audiences on mental health, providing a space for open and honest conversations. The gaming community has also raised money and donated to mental health organizations, showing their support and commitment to improving mental health outcomes.

Games as a Means of Creating Empathy 

Empathy is our ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Games can be a powerful tool for developing empathy for people with mental health conditions. By putting players in the shoes of someone with a mental illness, games can help players gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by people with mental health conditions and develop empathy for them.

For example, “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” is a game that follows the journey of a warrior with psychosis. The game provides players with an immersive experience of what it’s like to live with psychosis, including hearing voices, having distorted perceptions, and experiencing hallucinations. By putting players in the shoes of the protagonist, the game helps players develop empathy towards people with psychosis and reduces stigma towards mental illnesses.

Games Can Save Lives 

Mental health stigma is a significant issue that affects millions of people around the world. It can prevent individuals from seeking help, which causes feelings of shame and isolation, and even worsens the symptoms of mental illness. However, games have the potential to tackle this issue head-on!

It’s about time we recognize the value of games as a tool for mental health advocacy and support. That’s why we need to continue developing, promoting, and supporting games that address mental health issues and reduce the stigma around mental illness. 

By doing so, we can help create a world where everyone has access to the support they need to achieve good mental well-being. Together, we can break down the walls of stigma and build a more empathetic and compassionate society. For more insightful articles about mental health and emotional well-being, check out Thoughts on Life and Love’s Blog today!



Photo by EVG Kowalievska: