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  • Writer's pictureBrad Pietzyk

Streaming Games for Mental Health

I have been a gamer ever since my parents bought an Intellivision in the early 80s. I was immediately hooked. Video games have been there for me in good times and bad. They are a part of my life and have become a cornerstone of my mental health management.

Despite that, I have been a gaming isolationist. I have a host of diagnosed mental health conditions (which ultimately ended my military career), and I have used games as a retreat. Even in my extended foray into the MMORPG Final Fantasy 14 of about seven years, I have played alone.

I believe, with my mental illness, I lacked the confidence to put myself out there as a gamer and to play socially. Seeing the community built at Stack Up, I realized there is a whole world of support for me in social gaming, as well as an opportunity to use my platform to raise awareness.

I am good at a lot of things, like the technology of 10 years ago, but setting myself up to stream felt like a daunting task to me. To combat this, I enlisted the help of my 12-year-old gamer son. I was moving slow, and he was moving fast. While I was reading articles online that said with the PS5 share button on the controller, I could be streaming in minutes; he was, well, streaming in minutes! In my defense, an issue with my Internet provider had to be resolved before streaming would work for me.

Before even going live, I discovered something which should not have been surprising to me: anxiety. Anxiety is something I feel whenever starting something new and especially when putting myself “out there.” I even feel anxious over writing this blog post! I felt stressed over all the details of this project. Questions hammered into me; What do I stream? What do I say? How do I get people to even watch or interact? How do I get through the nuts and bolts of building my profile?

I mentioned it to my son, and he said, “dad, sometimes you just have to jump in.”

So, that’s what we did. On my first stream, we were joined by only two people, both from Stack Up, I assume. The first didn’t interact with me at all. I am suspicious the other one stopped by just to ensure I was doing okay.

And I was doing okay. We were having fun. Talking with another Veteran online about gaming for mental health opened a great dialogue between my son and me about my service. My son mentioned many of the stories I told him from my days as a combat engineer in the Army and reminded me of some of the best times. It showed me I had a lot of moments to be proud of, and I should shift how I look back on my service.

If you were hoping to click on this link and find a list of best practices: I’m sorry to disappoint. If there is any takeaway I would leave you with, it is that it doesn’t take a lot of people to find mental health support from streaming. I found a helpful exchange from only a single visitor to my stream. I can’t speak from experience save this single one. I had no reason to be intimidated and should have started a while ago.

And if you’re feeling squirrely, look me up on Twitch: AnxiousGoat78 (shameless plug). I’d love to meet you there. My favorite topics to discuss are mental health-related… and I can relate anything to mental health!

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