Commercial video games can help treat mental illness

Ireland, June 17, 2021: Popular video games have the potential to provide easy, cost-effective and effective, stigma-free access to some mental health issues, according to researchers from Lero, the Science Research Ireland Research Center for Software.

Lero’s team, a world leader in connected health research, said video games could be used where there are no conventional therapies because of cost or location, or as a complement to traditional therapeutic treatments for depression. or anxiety.

Lero researcher Mark Campbell said there is growing scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of commercial video games in improving mental health outcomes after the team reviewed existing academic research on the impact of video games. in mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety.

“It is worth considering commercial video games as a potential alternative to improving the various aspects of mental health globally,” he added.

Dr. Campbell led a team attached to the Institute for Health Research at the University of Limerick and the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science to publish his latest research work Gaming your mental health: A narrative review on mitigating depression and anxiety symptoms through commercial video games in academic journal JMIR Serious Games.

Dr. Campbell said commercial video games are available or available for free for a relatively low cost and that there are an estimated 2.7 billion video games worldwide.

“The general accessibility and widespread use of commercial video games in modern society places them as an invaluable means of reaching people with mental health disorders, regardless of age and gender, and with limited access to care. in mental health, especially relevant during the current COVID-19 pandemic, “he said.

The lead author of the paper Magdalena Kowal of Lero and UL said her research is in the context of the burden of financial and health services on mental illness, which affects more than 14% of the world’s population, with a proportion significant number of people with mental health problems who do not receive treatment.

“There is a higher demand for accessible and cost-effective methods that prevent and facilitate the coping of mental health diseases. This demand has worsened after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent increase in health disorders. mental illness, depression and anxiety in particular, “she said.

Magdalena Kowal said commercially available virtual reality (VR) video games have great potential to treat mental health issues as well.

“They are well suited for the implementation of cognitive behavioral techniques for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders in the future. Given the immersive nature of VR technology and the controllability of the virtual environment, it could be especially appropriate. for use in exposure therapy, ”he added.

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