Psychology Wellbeing & Fitness

Is Pokemon Go tackling mental health problems?

The immensely popular game Pokemon go has been reported by NetDoctor to bring additional health benefits to a normally sedentary gaming culture.  Players of the game go out of their way to increase their time spent walking outside in order to be able to take part in activities that lets the players increase in levels. Aside from the physical health benefits, the Independent has published an article where users have claimed that playing the game also helps them tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Of course, it is too early to tell if the benefits are tangible in the long-term, however mental illness is a complicated issue and it is always positive if some feel that playing the game helps them cope in everyday life.

Is it an issue?

Depression and anxiety are important issues for the UK as one in five people here have showed symptoms of depression and anxiety, and of these 21.5 % were females and 14.8 % were males. It is suspected that there are many who go undiagnosed and do not receive the help they need. Undiagnosed mental health issues are particularly prevalent in males, as the ONS reported that of all the suicides in the UK in 2013, 78% were by men. Suicide is actually the biggest killer for men between the ages of 20 and 49. For other men’s health issues read about the top 5 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.

A survey has shown that one in three people have admitted to struggling at work because of having to cope with stress or depression. Only half of those who are dealing with these issues confided in a colleague, but even this small step can be positive, with 71% saying it had helped their situation. It is understandable that many are afraid to confide to their colleagues let alone your manager because there are no direct physical manifestations of mental health disease. There are however hopeful stories such as this article written anonymously by a charity worker who’s depression came back re-emerged after having moved away from the stability of access to a regular counsellor for a great job. The article charts the writer’s fears and relief of discovering of how having an understanding manager can mean working together to come up with solutions to deal with any issues that may arise (Read the article here). If you are having issues at work due to mental health issues here is a mind map that will give you some ideas on how you can manage your mental health with job.


Is it in the genes?

New research has shown that while there might not be a gene that causes mental ill health, there is a gene that might make a person more emotionally susceptible to their environment. People with this specific gene can be affected positively as well as negatively depending on the environment, not necessarily leading to mental ill health but also happiness in certain environments. Perhaps this is why depression and anxiety have been shown to affect so many people in the world. Authors of a review published in Molecular Psychiatry, Professors Elaine Fox and Chris Beevers are calling for a new type of research combining genetic and cognitive bias studies. Cognitive bias is a theory that describes a mental filter by which some people view the world and in depression this filter happens to emphasise negative thoughts. By combining both strands of research, it will allow scientists to understand the link between the genetics and how they can express as depression in some people.

Be aware of depression and seek help

For now, if you think you are feeling depressed it probably won’t go away unless you do something about it, as this therapist with depression writes in a recent Huffington Post article. The NHS has some advice on how to deal with depression, including exercise which can be undertaken when playing games such as Pokemon Go. One of the first steps to getting help is to tell someone, however if you feel you cannot speak to anyone you know please contact the Samaritans.

For more advice, visit a GP.


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