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Gaming doesn't cause poor mental health – unless an addiction is formed

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

A survey of 40,000 gamers concludes that gaming provides no harm to mental health, unless the gamer forms an addiction and cannot stop.

The survey – carried out by the University of Oxford – found no ‘causal link’ between playing any kind of video game and developing poor mental health.

However, the results did reveal a significant disparity in mental health between gamers that played ‘because they want to,’ and those that play ‘because they feel they have to.’

The study is the biggest of its kind, consisting of 40,000 participants and their first-party data from 7 games from varying genres, including Gran Turismo Sport, Apex Legends, Eve Online and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

While most previous studies have required participants to keep diaries, the access to in-time first-party data has provided researchers with much greater insight into the relationship between mental health and gaming.

‘We found it really does not matter how much gamers played [in terms of their sense of well-being]," said senior research fellow, Professor Andrew Przybylski. "It wasn’t the quantity of gaming, but the quality that counted… if they felt they had to play, they felt worse. If they played because they loved it, then the data did not suggest it affected their mental health. It seemed to give them a strong positive feeling."

Professor Przybylski also felt it important to highlight the difficulty in accessing participant’s data from their respective gaming platforms.

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo were all reluctant to share their first-party data with the research team, despite the fact gamers gave permission for this information (which they own) to be accessed.

"Players want to know what impact gaming has," he added. "Scientists want to know. Parents want to know. The Government wants to know. I want to know… and the information is there. This data needs to be open and it needs to be easy to share.

"If the big gaming platforms care about their players’ well-being, they need to empower players and scientists to learn about how their products influence us, for good or ill."

Read the full story here.

Guidelines under development for increasing social prescribing in Wales

New guidance and standards are being developed to determine how socially prescribed activities, including art groups, gardening clubs, cold swimming and exercise classes, should be delivered throughout Wales to help the NHS combat worsening mental health.

A new consultation on social prescriptions was launched by Lynne Neagle, deputy minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, to investigate how a community-based and non-clinical treatment for preventing poor mental health should be carried out.

“Social prescribing continues to benefit people’s wellbeing, particularly their mental wellbeing, helping people to stay connected with their community and learn new skills," said Neagle. "The aim of this consultation is to secure a common understanding of social prescribing and a consistent approach across Wales to its delivery.

"Current evidence shows that there is variation across the country in access to social prescribing and awareness of non-clinical support available.

“In addition, I want the national framework to embed social prescribing services where they either do not exist or need to be developed further and identify those areas where further action can be taken," she added.

Read the full story here.

More men are seeking mental health support after UFC fighter speech

More men have been seeking support and attending mental health groups after UFC athlete Paddy Pimblett gave an impassioned speech about men’s mental health following the suicide of his close friend.

The men’s mental health group Andy’s Man Club has now seen more men attending sessions, especially those coming for the first time.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, group facilitator Andy Wilson said:

"Across both of the Leeds and Castleford groups, we have 69 (10 new) and 39 (9 new) who attended respectively. It just shows how much the groups are needed and how more and more men are talking if they're struggling.

"The interview with Paddy Pimblett following his fight at the weekend can only have helped raise awareness on how important it is for people to open up and talk if they're struggling with anything and a reminder once again that it's okay to talk."

Read the full story here.

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