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How can video games help with mental health?

How can video games help with mental health?

In recent years, video games have become a popular form of entertainment among people of all ages. With advancements in technology, video games have evolved from simple pixelated graphics to immersive virtual reality experiences. 

While some may argue that video games are a waste of time and contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, others believe that they can have a positive impact on mental health. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the potential benefits that video games may have on mental health and how they can be used as a tool for self-care.

How can video games help with mental health?

Video games have been a part of our lives for quite some time now. They offer a way to escape reality and enter a virtual world where we can be whoever we want to be and do whatever we want to do. However, video games have often been associated with negative effects such as addiction and aggression.

But did you know that video games can actually have a positive impact on mental health? 

How can video games help with mental health?
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve cognitive abilities
  • Boost self-esteem
  • Provide social interaction
  • Provide an escape
  • Video games can improve mood
  • Video games can be used for therapeutic purposes

1. Reduce stress and anxiety:

One of the main benefits of playing video games is that it can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. When we play video games, we enter a state of flow where we become so engrossed in the game that we forget about our worries and problems. This can be particularly helpful for people who suffer from anxiety disorders as it provides a distraction from their anxious thoughts.

2. Improve cognitive abilities:

Video games require a lot of cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, decision-making, and spatial awareness. By playing video games, we can improve these abilities which can have a positive impact on our mental health. For example, problem-solving skills can be applied to real-life situations such as work and relationships.

3. Boost self-esteem:

Video games can also boost self-esteem and confidence levels. When we successfully complete a difficult level or achieve a high score, we feel a sense of accomplishment which can improve our self-esteem. This can be particularly beneficial for people who suffer from low self-esteem or depression.

4. Provide social interaction:

Video games also provide a way for people to interact socially, even if it is in a virtual world. Multiplayer games allow people to connect with others and form friendships which can have a positive impact on mental health. This is especially important for people who may find it difficult to socialize in real life due to anxiety or other mental health issues.

5. Provide an escape:

Video games provide an escape from reality which can be particularly helpful for people who are going through a difficult time. By immersing themselves in a virtual world, they can forget about their problems and focus on something else for a while. This can be a healthy coping mechanism for people who may be struggling with mental health issues.

6. Video games can improve mood:

Playing video games can release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This can improve mood and provide a sense of accomplishment. Additionally, video games can provide a temporary escape from negative emotions, allowing the player to focus on something positive.

7. Video games can be used for therapeutic purposes:

Video games are increasingly being used as a tool in therapy. Games such as “Depression Quest” and “SPARX” have been developed specifically for mental health treatment. These games provide a safe and controlled environment for patients to explore and work on their mental health issues.

Can video games really help with mental health?

Yes, video games have been shown to have positive effects on mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving cognitive function, and providing a sense of community and social support.

What specific mental health benefits can video games provide?

Video games can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, enhance cognitive function, increase motivation, and provide a sense of accomplishment and mastery.

Are all types of video games helpful for mental health?

No, not all video games are created equal when it comes to mental health benefits. Games that are designed to be relaxing, calming, or meditative are generally more effective than those that are violent or competitive.

Are there any risks associated with playing video games for mental health?

While video games can be helpful for mental health, excessive gaming can lead to negative outcomes such as addiction, social isolation, and physical health problems. It is important to maintain a balance and limit screen time.

Can video games be used as a substitute for therapy or other mental health treatments?

No, video games should not be used as a substitute for professional mental health treatment. However, they can be a helpful complement to other treatments and strategies.

What types of video games are best for mental health?

Games that are designed to be relaxing, calming, or meditative are generally the most effective for mental health. Examples include puzzle games, virtual reality experiences, and games that incorporate mindfulness or meditation practices.

How often should I play video games for mental health benefits?

It is recommended to play video games in moderation, ideally for no more than an hour or two per day. It is also important to take breaks and engage in other activities to maintain a healthy balance.


In conclusion, video games can have a positive impact on mental health. They can reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve cognitive abilities, boost self-esteem, provide social interaction, and provide an escape from reality.

However, it is important to note that video games should not be used as a replacement for professional help if you are struggling with your mental health. If you are experiencing mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional.

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