Perspectives on Health Equity Seminar Series: Entertaining interventions – The use of entertainment games as mental health interventions

The CGHE Perspectives on Health Equity seminar series is an interdisciplinary forum for socially engaged research on health and medicine. The seminar series will bring together NYU Shanghai faculty and graduate students, as well as colleagues from other institutions, serving as a forum for intellectual exchange and for community building.  We welcome presentations that investigate the social contexts of health and healing from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Speakers can present original research, receive feedback on ongoing projects, organize panel discussions, or propose other formats for the seminar.

In this first talk, Professor Thomas Nyman will present an overview of the potential benefits and challenges of using of EGs as mental health interventions and then open up for a round-table discussion.

Globally one in eight suffer from a mental disorder and the estimated yearly cost of this health burden is expected to reach ~$6 trillion by 2030. A potential solution to the global mental health service shortage is the implementation of digital mental health interventions (DMHIs) as these have several benefits compared with traditional face-to-face interventions (e.g., online delivery and real-time monitoring). However, although DMHIs have the potential to reach a wide audience, they have low adherence and high dropoutrates, meaning low potential to sustainably engage users. One way of increasing user engagement in digital interventions is by using serious gaming (SG). SG interventions differ from other DMHIs in that SGs employ gaming components (e.g., adaptive content). Nevertheless, reaching participants and keeping them engaged is difficulty for all intervention approaches. Here, entertainment games (EGs) may offer a way forward. EGs are designed specifically for entertainment and not for mental health interventions. However, EGs utilize many of the same digital tools as SGs and the question is if existing EGs can be used to treat mental illness. Limited findings suggest that entertainment games can be used help to improve, for example, emotion regulation and to reduce stress. The benefit of using existing EGs for mental health interventions is that many individuals already engage with games on a daily basis. In the United States, there are ~227 million individuals who play games once a week. The numbers of users in South East Asia and in China are equivalent to the United States and are growing. Importantly, identifying the therapeutic prospects of using EGs as interventions may have great potential to combat the increasing global mental health burden.

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In-person at Academic Building room 1200 / Zoom
Perspectives on Health Equity Seminar Series: Entertaining interventions – The use of entertainment games as mental health interventions
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