WHY VIDEO GAMES?
Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll.
We recognize that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and emotional distress affect millions of individuals and are a leading cause of isolation, persistent health issues and hardships within our community.
Active duty military personnel face extraordinary pressure in the line of duty. However, after their service is over, we understand another challenge begins for many. It is okay to want to be healthy and seek help, whether facing troubling times, feeling a lack of purpose, or having lost the will to persevere. At Stack Up, we aim to break down the stigmas associated with these issues through the use of gaming.
Community Case Study: Stack Up’s Overwatch Program, an Online Suicide Prevention and Peer Support Program for Video Gamers
Colder Carras M, Bergendahl M and Labrique AB (2021) Community Case Study: Stack Up’s Overwatch Program, an Online Suicide Prevention and Peer Support Program for Video Gamers. Front. Psychol. 12:575224
Traditional mental health services are often not enough to meet the needs of people at risk for suicide, especially in populations where help-seeking is stigmatized. Stack Up, a non-profit veteran organization whose goal is to use video games to bring veterans together, recognized a need in its gaming-focused online community and created the Overwatch Program. This suicide prevention and crisis intervention program is delivered entirely through the Internet by trained community members through Discord text and voice chat. By combining aspects of virtual gaming communities, veteran mental health, and community-based peer support, this program provides an innovative format for implementing crisis intervention and mental health support programs. We describe here the context and features of the program, an ongoing evaluation project, and lessons learned.
Jones CM, Scholes L, Johnson D, Katsikitis M and Carras MC (2014) Gaming well: links between video games and flourishing mental health. Front. Psychol. 5:260
This paper is a review of the state of play of research linking video gaming and flourishing, and explores the role of video games and technology to improve mental health and well-being. Its purpose is to develop understandings about the positive intersection of gaming and well-being, to document evidence regarding links between video games and positive mental health, and to provide guidelines for use by other researchers as they design and use tools and games to improve mental health and well-being. Using Huppert’s (Huppert and So, 2013) proposition that to flourish is more than the absence of mental disorder but rather a combination of feeling good and functioning effectively, resulting in high levels of mental well-being, and Seligman’s (Seligman, 2011) PERMA theory of well-being, the paper identifies strengths in existing games that generate positive affect, positive functioning, and positive social functioning, contributing to, and supporting mental health and well-being.
More than Just a Game? Combat-Themed Gaming Among Recent Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Luther Elliott, Andrew Golub, Matthew Price, and Alexander Bennett Games for Health Journal 2015 4:4, 271-277
This article examines recent combat veterans’ experiences of “first-person shooter” (FPS) gaming and its relationship to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Current PTSD treatment approaches increasingly use virtual reality (VR) technologies, which have many similarities with FPS games. To explore these similarities, this article presents six case studies from recently separated veterans in New York City who reported both current PTSD symptoms and regular use of combat-themed FPS games. In open-ended interviews, participants discussed a range of benefits as well as the importance of regulating use and avoiding particular contextual dimensions of gaming to maintain healthy gaming habits. Findings demonstrate the need for more comprehensive study and dissemination of best-practices information about FPS gaming in the context of combat-related PTSD symptomatology.
The VA found that there were more than 6,000 veteran suicides each year from 2008 to 2016. Veterans accounted for 14 percent of all suicides in the United States in 2016, yet veterans comprise just 8 percent of the population.