Since the earliest days of video games, there has always been controversy around whether gaming is a force for good or ill. Like anything else, the answer to this probably differs from person to person, but the consensus does seem to be shifting over time. Where casual gaming was one a time-killing dalliance, video games are now being seen as offering tangible benefits. With that in mind, here are 3 ways video games can boost mental health.

1. Improved cognitive and problem-solving abilities

As anyone who has ever played a game of Tetris will tell you, video games are all about solving problems. While this may seem like a way to simply kill time, there are real brain benefits too. It’s well known that using the brain to solve complex puzzles – in any form – is a great way to give your grey matter a workout. Video games are able to improve both cognitive and problem-solving skills in people of all ages.

2. Improvements for attention, focus, and persistence

Certain mental health conditions present along with an inability to maintain focus – especially over long periods of time. This can become difficult in both school and work settings, so anything which helps overcome these problems is beneficial. It’s been proven that video games can help improve focus and persistence in gamers. For example, the University of Arkansas ran a study in 2018 which showed that just one hour of playing a video game can help people focus on pertinent information and disregard that which is irrelevant.

3. Creating mental space for depression sufferers

One of the biggest reasons that video games appeal to those suffering from mental health conditions is that they create a sense of escapism. For people with depression, in particular, this escapism can lead to a number of key benefits. In fact, in 2019, psychologist Brian Sutton-Smith found that the experiences of gamers at play – confidence, energy, and positivity – are all the opposite of those experiences created by depression. Video games stimulate motivation for positive outcomes – something many depressed people find they lack. While this may not apply to all sufferers of depression, it’s certainly helpful for some – and that’s progress.

When it comes to gaming, mental health will always be the subject of some discussion, but it seems that more people are realising that video games can be a positive force for change in many people’s lives.