Games can be good for your brain, but sometimes we all need a little help. In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, it's hard not to feel the weight of worry on your mind. And while gaming is rich with communities and ways of connecting with others through shared interests and online formats, finding the support you need isn't quite as easy as dropping into a Discord or Twitch chat and asking for it – though you'd be surprised how sharing your troubles with your friends can help.
But if you don't feel like you can talk to your friends just yet, there is help out there. And if you find it easier to talk with people who enjoy the same things you do then welcoming, supportive communities have been set up for (and by) gamers. Here are some of the best mental health resources to support gamers through any hardships.
If you feel you are in serious and immediate danger to yourself, or require more timely guidance, please call one of the below lines. You can find more support lines for your country here. Please talk to someone, you might not feel like it but you are valuable.
- UK Samaritans: Phone 116123, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- US Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255, Text MHA to 741741
- Canada Crisis Service: Phone 1 833 456 4566, Text 45645
- Australia Lifeline: Phone 13 11 14
- New Zealand Life Line: Phone 0800 543 354
Safe in our World was launched last year, with the backing of a number of developers mostly based in the UK (where this org is registered). It was set up as a way to foster positive mental health wellbeing and deliver support for everyone who makes up the video games industry, from players to publishers. They have a number of resources on the site to help you understand some of the more common mental health symptoms that manifest in the gaming audience. They'll try to help you understand why you might be bored of games, even while you keep wanting to play them. There are also tailored resources for people affected by COVID-19, and the isolation it has wrought. And they have a good selection of games to help you explore various aspects of mental health. A great place to start if what you're looking for is understanding or light self-help and reassurance.
If they hadn't all been canceled, you may have seen CheckPoint appearing at various gaming expos and conventions over the summer season. Or perhaps in the past. They're the friendly folks running breakout and chillout rooms for when all the lights and noise of the showfloor (or life in general) can get a bit overwhelming. Luckily, they're great at distanced support as well, running two separate Discord servers for gamers looking for a friendly ear. The first is the official server, which is affectionately called GamerMates, and will help you find 'a pro-mental health gaming community which promotes resilience and self-care as well as providing tips and resources for your wellbeing.' They run gaming sessions and 'game of the month' clubs, to help introduce you to caring communities. The second is for more immediate help, called PatchGaming, and is a devoted reachout to anyone suffering from their mental health. A voice channel called 'I Need To Talk' will put you in touch with a trained listener who may be able to lend a helping hand, though can't provide formal counselling. If you just need someone to listen to your worries they'll be there.
It can be dangerous to go alone, and Take This knows that, which is why they have a number of community resources to help gamers. They launched a Discord recently to help those isolated by the coronavirus pandemic, with licensed psychologists on the community management team. They also have some expertly-collected resources, which can be especially helpful if you're thinking about trying therapy. There are links to online therapists, which is a must in the current climate, and databases for finding local ones once that becomes feasible for you. And to round it out, if you just want to hang out with some welcoming faces, they have a number of stream ambassadors with friendly communities.
We've reached the end of Pride Month, but that doesn't mean LGBTQ+ issues aren't important anymore. The Trevor Project has been one of the most gamer-friendly organizations supporting the queer community, through specialist crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Their focused age range of under 25 means that naturally gaming is a big part of the lives of many in their community, and partnering with Twitch during Pride means their services are fairly well-known. If you haven't heard of them before, they offer lifelines through phone, online chat and text for LGBTQ youth who are going through crisis with trained advisors who create a welcoming and safe space. They also run workshops and training for people to help out in their own communities. You can find more of The Trevor Project's programs here.
Rise Above The Disorder (RAD) are focused on providing mental health care to everyone, regardless of hurdles like insurance and navigating the healthcare system, which shouldn't be standing in the way of you getting better. If everyone has access and affordability of healthcare, then that's one less thing to worry about. They've previously partnered with Dreamhack to run Smash tournaments, and specifically cater to youth without access to insurance. There are resources for finding a therapist – which will be LGBTQ+ and millenial-friendly – and applying for a grant to be used to fund therapy, medication or even travel to attend sessions. The summer grant program is scheduled to begin soon, so if you think you can't afford therapy then please consider that You Are Rad and you can do this.