Gamers vs. Depression

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 6–8% of young people live with depression. Mental disorders more broadly, account for the highest proportion of disease among young people worldwide, with depression soon poised to become the largest single contributor to the burden of disease globally. Half of all lifetime mental health issues emerge by the age of 14 and three quarters by the age of 24. However, most young people facing mental health problems are often reluctant to seek help (Rickwood, Deane, Wilson, & Ciarrochi, 2005; Sawyer et al., 2001). As such, adolescence is a critical time for the development of depression and mental health literacy (MHL) and support. If left unsupported, mental health conditions, and in particular depression, can contribute to early mortality and increased morbidity and has a significant negative impact on the quality of life and future vocational success for young people.

Gamers vs Depression offers a two phased approach to improving Depression literacy and help seeking behaviour in young males. During phase one, participants are asked to complete a pre and post measures of mental depression literacy and help seeking behaviour. The intervention is delivered by trained Gamers vs Depression mentors and consist of four, 1-hour game-play streams covering the following topics: (1) Understanding Mental Health, (2) Gaming and Mental Health, (3) Barriers and Solutions, and (4) Talking about Mental Health.

Phase two of the program will build an online gaming community, where gamers are free to discuss any troubles or worries they have with peers without fear of judgement, prejudice or discrimination. Gamers will first be asked to complete the programme developed in phase one of the project. They will then be carefully organised into gaming teams and provided with support literature (e.g., nutrition, sleep hygiene). Safeguarding measures will also be put in place to flag inappropriate behaviour. Much like the physical support networks created through sports teams and social activities pre-Covid-19, we hope the gaming teams will act as a kind of social/peer-support group where young men can openly discuss their challenges outside of their immediate network in a safe and supportive manner.

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