For many, gaming can be a great distraction or escape from reality. There are lots of different genres of games out there; some aim to exercise your mind, some encourage creativity, with ambient music or visuals designed to relax players, and some have more specific storylines or objectives such as action, adventure or strategy games. There is an online community associated with some games, or the opportunity to play online with your peers, and this can provide a sense of community and support, as well as opening a line of communication with your friends.
It is important to remember that, much like real life, not all corners of the gaming community are safe or positive spaces. Childline has some great advice on how to make sure you stay safe online.
If you start to feel intimidated or anxious by what other people are saying on the internet, you can block and report them, or sign out of that space. More generally, taking a break from gaming sometimes can give you a needed change of scene; balancing all your time online, including school or work, with other activities so that it does not consume your whole waking time.
What young people have told us:
'Try numerous games until you find the right one for you.'
'Gaming gives me a distraction from the stresses of life.'
'My dad has put a limit on how much time I can have on electronics (not counting school work) and this gives me a really helpful relationship with gaming.'
'Because when you can't see your friends you can just log on and have fun with them as if you were playing football.'
'I think it helped because we used to go round each others houses and play video games or go outside and play in the woods but now in lockdown when we cant do those things, online gaming has really helped us keep our friendship as we can still play the games that we used to play.'
'Yes extremely. It is literally an alternate reality, a distraction from reality.'
'It's like an escape, and you can play with friends, which is especially important now. Games like Minecraft are good as they're creative and really fun, with a lot of things you can do, depending on what you like.'
'It helped me to take my mind of things I don't like. I forgot what I was worried about whilst I played on my Xbox.'
'It gave me a sense of purpose and something to do when I was completely lacking drive and motivation.'
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.