May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we at the UNT Media Library would like to take a moment to highlight the benefits that games, gaming, and play can have on mental health and general well-being.

Whether it be relaxing by playing your favorite adventure game, staying active and challenging your brain by solving a difficult puzzle, enjoying a new or classic boardgame, or even hopping on your phone to play a few minutes of a mobile game when you finally have a moment away, many of us utilize games and gaming in some form or fashion to relax and unwind or, alternatively, to stay active and engaged. Each of these activities can be a great resource to de-stress, spend time with friends, and visit other worlds, all the while unlocking rewards, completing goals, or earning achievements. 

For some, the best way to decompress is by participating in a solo, single-player adventure at your own pace and at your own will. For others, the most freeing thing about playing a game is the ability to engage in a multiplayer setting while continuing to foster camaraderie and support connection with others, even during times of social distance. 

There are times that games can support mental health and well-being even just by watching your favorite esport or seeing your favorite streamer play through a game you enjoy (or a game you can’t beat) while you sit back and relax with a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning 

Gamification, the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts, is also often utilized in various forms during counseling sessions. 

When playing a game, the player can create a set of goals or have those goals provided, complete objectives they set their mind to, and gain a sense of accomplishment when these goals are completed; the rewarding sensation of progressing beyond a milestone and earning a reward for doing so can at times be almost unrivaled. The player can explore, experience, and create worlds. They can encounter and discover characters of all kinds and can even build bonds with these characters and live through the countless stories presented. 

There are numerous games that are great resources for developing positive mental health and well-being. Some games which are said to foster and support well-being include titles like JourneyHollow KnightAbzu, and Animal Crossing. However, there are even games known to have accurate or positive in-game representations of mental health as well, such as HellbladeLife is Strange, and Celeste. For example, in Celeste, the game is structured in a way that allows the player to gain a better understanding of what they may be dealing with in their own lives, with personified problems that allow the player to address things in the game or within themselves. 

Regardless of the delivery method, whether it be playing video games, playing tabletop and board games, watching others play games, rooting for your favorite team or player, or even just making a game out of something that wasn’t initially a game to begin with, games and gaming have the tremendous ability to allow us to relax, unwind, and enjoy ourselves truly however we see fit.  

For more information on mental health and games for well-being, as well as a comprehensive list of games which can support mental health, head over to CheckPoint to read more about the psychological benefits of video games: 

You can also access and join CheckPoint’s pro-mental health gaming community, GamerMates, here: 

For more mental health and well-being resources located on the UNT campus, head over to the following link here: 

Be well and game on.


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