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October 23, 2023
Photo Credit: Team Dignitas
Ruderman Family Foundation, which has expanded its extensive mental health work into gaming, unveils new study at TwitchCon Las Vegas and hosted panel on mental health and gaming with leading gamers and creators “Bugha,” “EMUHLEET,” “Your Narrator,” “Keeoh” and Erin Ashley Simon
Las Vegas, NV, October 23, 2023 — The Ruderman Family Foundation and The Public Good Projects (PGP) today released a first-of-its-kind report that analyzes the potential role of gaming as an innovative solution to the escalating youth mental health crisis in America.
According to the white paper, titled “Harnessing the Power of Gaming to Combat the Youth Mental Health Crisis,” the popularity of gaming — which is enjoyed by 71% of U.S. youth and over 215 million active gamers in the U.S. alone — makes it a creative avenue for reaching youths who are struggling with mental health challenges. At the same time, there is a need for more information on how to use gaming to support the mental health of youth and young adults in a culturally competent way.
The Ruderman Family Foundation commissioned the white paper study with PGP to help the public better understand the mental health implications of gaming. The report identifies the role that gaming companies, mental health professionals, researchers, trusted adults in young gamers’ lives, and even gamers themselves can play in making the gaming space a more supportive environment for youth and young adult gamers’ mental health. It also offers recommendations for gaming companies, including in the realm of acknowledging and prioritizing mental health, creating and sharing resources, creating a standardized warning system for troubling content, preventing toxicity, and addressing toxicity after it occurs.
The landmark study was unveiled at the gaming sector’s largest annual event — TwitchCon Las Vegas on October 21 — the Foundation partnered with New Meta Entertainment, Inc. (NME) on the inaugural panel discussion related to mental health with leading NME and outside talents such as Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, Emmalee “EMUHLEET” Garrido, Joey “Keeoh” Winkler, Erin Ashley Simon and Grant “Your Narrator” Etzler.
When discussing the impact of Twitch Chat as it relates to his own mental health, Keeoh shared, “Chat and the social interactions you get to have with so many people you wouldn’t ever run into on a daily basis are incredibly beautiful in some ways. However, it has its downsides with people also being able to be completely anonymous, allowing them to say some pretty egregious things without repercussions. Bringing light to the solutions, tools and resources creators and streamers can use to deal with this polarization is exactly the intent of the report.”
The panel covered a range of topics centered around mental health and gaming. In addition, NME and the Foundation created an event space at TwitchCon where talent and fans connected with mental health resources.
Bugha stated in regard to his meet and greet and interaction with his fans, “It’s always good to give back to the youth gaming community and this panel and booth do just that. Through my previous initiatives with Five Below where we provided more access to gaming by offering more affordable gaming equipment; to something as simple as not drinking soda on stream to set positive examples for the kids in my community, I am always actively thinking about youth initiatives and how I can be a positive impact in the gaming community.”
Over the years, the Foundation has become synonymous for its work to end the stigma associated with mental health across a myriad of different sectors, including education, sports and entertainment. Bringing this expertise to the world of gaming, the Foundation seeks to respond to the escalating youth mental health crisis — which sees an alarming 42% of U.S. high school students report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness — by seeing an opportunity to reach an unprecedented number of today’s youth. It represents a key step in the Foundation’s expansion of its extensive work within the mental health space.
“Given the severity of today’s mental health crisis, we cannot ignore the immense potential of gaming in our pursuit of helping Americans and especially the country’s youth gain greater access to indispensable mental health support,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Gaming offers a unique platform for fostering social connections, honing valuable life skills, and imparting essential life lessons. That is why initiatives such as our new study as well as the panel at TwitchCon are poised to make a tremendous impact by raising much-needed awareness around gaming’s role in solving mental health challenges.”
Now, as the Official Mental Health Partner of NME, the Foundation is partnering with NME’s Dignitas esports organization to enhance an inclusive and supportive environment for gaming fans and esports professionals everywhere.
To read the “Harnessing the Power of Gaming to Combat the Youth Mental Health Crisis” report in its entirety, visit: https://rudermanfoundation.org/white_papers/harnessing-the-power-of-gaming-to-combat-the-youth-mental-health-crisis/
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ABOUT THE RUDERMAN FAMILY FOUNDATION
The Ruderman Family Foundation is an internationally recognized organization that works to end the stigma associated with mental health. The Foundation does this by identifying gaps in mental health resources and programs within the high school and higher education communities as well as by organizing other local and national programming and initiatives that raise greater awareness around the stigma.
The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community and imposes these values within its leadership and funding. For more information, please visit www.rudermanfoundation.org
ABOUT PUBLIC GOOD PROJECTS (PGP)
PGP (The Public Good Projects) is a public health nonprofit specializing in large-scale media monitoring programs, social and behavior change interventions, and cross-sector initiatives. PGP applies the best evidence and practices from the public and private sectors to create bold projects for health. PGP’s programs and initiatives are evidence-based, tailored for particular populations, employ a collective impact model, and are scientifically evaluated. PGP is led by experts in public health, marketing, journalism, media, and business. We deploy our considerable resources and relationships to support communities and partners in their mission to make a healthier and more equitable world. PGP is a registered 501(c)(3).
ABOUT NEW META ENTERTAINMENT, INC.: DIGNITAS & RAIDIANT
Since its formation in 2003, Dignitas has established itself as one of the most successful esports organizations in the world, amassing 18 World Championships across multiple gaming titles. In September 2016, Dignitas was acquired by the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), a diverse, global portfolio of sports and entertainment franchises and properties that includes the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), New Jersey Devils (NHL) and more. Dignitas is the esports organization within New Meta Entertainment, Inc. (NME), a new media sports and entertainment company founded in May 2019 by an investor group that includes HBSE, Susquehanna International Group and Delaware North, among others. Dignitas currently fields teams in three of esports’ largest and most popular games: League of Legends, Fortnite, and Rocket League. In 2021, NME launched Raidiant, a first-of-its-kind, esports team agnostic platform to empower women in gaming through resources and events. With content studios and player wellness facilities in Greater New York City and Los Angeles, NME is a global leader dedicated to esports athletes, digital influencers, and entertainment game-changers.
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