Mental Health Awareness Month takes place each year during the month of May. Established in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month was created to increase awareness around mental health and mental wellness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 60 million Americans – approximately one in five – experience mental illness in a given year and 50% of all mental illness starts by age 14.
The rate of teens who are experiencing mental health difficulties is rising. We at iThrive Games take these rising numbers very seriously and that is why iThrive offers mental health initiatives that are designed to build social and emotional skills, as well as reduce the barriers to treatment for teens.
Throughout the month of May, we have been highlighting our resources that support strengths-based mental health outcomes through gameplay and more.
What We Do
iThrive’s mental health initiatives reveal the power of games for use in therapeutic settings and create supportive experiences for teens to explore identity, wellness, and meaning.
We offer Clinician Guides which are resources for mental health providers who use or want to use games therapeutically. iThrive understands that it is impossible to be knowledgeable about every game a teen client is playing but we also believe that savvy clinicians understand the importance of using clients’ passion to pursue treatment goals.
That is why we created these one-page information sheets about popular commercial games that can inform therapeutic discussion and, more importantly, demonstrate genuine interest and support for teen clients.
Our Clinician Guides were created by Kelli Dunlap, PsyD, in partnership with mental health professionals who are familiar with the games and have used them in therapeutic settings. Each guide is reviewed by a licensed mental health professional.
iThrive’s resources for educators and parents alike showcase how to use games to engage the whole teen. From curricular resources to an article series and our curated games catalog, our website houses a wealth of information that highlights compelling games that feature mechanics, narratives, and other elements identified by players, professional game developers, game scholars, educators, and scientists that are supportive of habits for thriving such as empathy, curiosity, growth mindset, and kindness. We also offer a Mental Health Design Kit which serves as an informational resource to thoughtful design around mental illness.
The goal of iThrive is to be an ally to teens, including those who are struggling with mental health conditions. We work to create a space and support system to prepare them with the social and emotional skills they need in order to cope with challenging and unfair environments.
Why This is Important
Everyone should have the opportunity to thrive and live their best life. Stigmas surrounding mental health conditions have no room for existence because help is available and there is nothing wrong with seeking it.
HealthyChildren.org says that “9 in 10 teens who take their own lives met criteria for a diagnosis of psychiatric or mental health condition or disorder—more than half of them with a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.” You can find additional information on the prevalence and impact of mental health conditions here.
Change is Needed
Communication is key to making any real change. All people need to feel safe and accepted so that they can open up and let their voice be heard. We want to create space for teens to have the voice, choice, and agency they need for mental wellness. By doing so, not only will they be better able to cope with the many stresses life can bring, but they will also be able to create positive impacts on their communities.
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