Mental Health Awareness Month

The term “mental illness” can conjure up some strong feelings, especially for those who struggle with mental health issues on a regular basis. For decades, there’s been a stigma in society about mental illnesses. Here at NASEF, we’re used to shattering stigmas, so this is familiar territory for us all!

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to help raise awareness among our students so that we can contribute to the reduction of the societal stigmas that surround mental health, and get ourselves or people around us help when needed.

Mental Illness is More Common Than You Might Think

Approximately 18.1% of the American population suffers from anxiety disorders, according to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That’s over 58 million people. Unfortunately, only 36% of people with anxiety disorders seek treatment. These statistics underscore the need for increased awareness, so that nobody has to suffer in silence.

What Are Some Symptoms?

According to The Mayo Clinic, the following symptoms aren’t meant to help someone diagnose a mental illness. Instead, use them to spark a conversation with a teammate, friend, or for yourself.

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Please note: If you or someone you know are experiencing thoughts about suicide, please speak with someone. It’s a scary thing for someone to go through by themselves, and there are a number of free resources available to people experiencing this difficult time. Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems, and everyone’s life matters - especially yours!

For a crisis, get someone to a hospital by dialing 911 in the United States or Canada. Counselors are also available by visiting SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

Play With a Community!

Human beings were designed to be in community, not in isolation.

If you find that you’re spending a lot of time alone, make an effort to be around others. We’d encourage you to play in the same space as other gamers. If you have a friend who’s playing alone, invite them to join your esports club.

Community plays a major role in helping cope with and overcome mental illnesses, so play with people you enjoy being around.

Break the Stigma

Based on the large percentage of people who suffer from mental illnesses around the world, there’s a great chance that you have someone in your life struggling with one. There are likely a lot of students in your school struggling with any number of mental health issues. Illnesses like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder are no different than diabetes, high cholesterol, or asthma. Let’s end the stigma surrounding mental health issues so people feel more comfortable to talk about it.

You can be a part of ending the stigma by having conversations with your clubs to raise awareness about mental health. Invite a school counselor or psychologist to your club to discuss ways to incorporate healthy gaming habits to promote better mental health.

Help others by sharing this post on social media using the hashtag #BreakTheStigma. By raising greater awareness, we can help our fellow students know that they aren’t alone, and there’s always help available!