Mental Health Issues are Pervasive Everywhere, Not Just Esports
I read Tyler Erzberger’s piece “Mental health issues remain pervasive problem in esports scene,” and I applaud him for bringing attention to this issue. He has also been candid about his own issues dealing with social anxiety and depression. Bringing esports to the forefront of the emerging mental health crisis in professional sports is welcome (And I recommend after reading his story, you read “Let’s talk about mental health in esports: 10 individuals share their story.”)
As an educator who wants to show people the benefits of esports in education, it is important that we consider not all esports are equal in regards to this story. This story focuses on professionalgamers. This is a very different world for middle and high school children who may participate on their esports teams in their schools. The mental health benefits for school children are far more easily accessed, and the level of pressure is far less compared to that of a professional gamer. By incorporating esports into schools, we build in better supports for children to learnhow to navigate the pressures detailed here. This is oneexample why solely focusing on the games for school esports teams misses out on a much bigger opportunity.
What I felt was naïve of Tyler was suggesting the online fan experience is unusual to esports. In my professional role as the Director of Digital & Virtual Learning for the Racine Unified School District, I come in contact with children and parents dealing with social anxieties and depression stemming from social media, everyday, and I have for several years. These are not endemic of esports, and I do not think Tyler meant it to be as such. It is important to know, which I believe we all do, that social media is pervasive in our hyper-connected society. What we need are for schools and adults to engage with children in these online spaces, and provide guidance and mental health resources to help them face their successes and failures, appropriately.