As we continue into Mental Health Awareness month, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight an organization, Safe in our World, that is focused on improving mental health, bringing awareness within the gaming community, and destigmatizing the discussion surrounding mental health.
What does Safe in our World do?
Mental Health in the gaming industry is a hot topic. We have all heard the stories of developers working insane hours to meet deadlines. Though we do love the games that these studios create, we have to at least be mindful of the mental toll it takes to actually make a game. Fortunately, Safe in our World is trying to help change the culture of the gaming industry and working with companies to actually make meaningful changes. One of the ways that they do this is through their Level Up campaign in 2020. This campaign serves as a pledge that a company can take to ensure that they are committing to focusing on the wellness of their employees and to the broader industry.
Resources for Gamers
In addition to working with companies within the industry, Safe in our World also provides help to gamers across the world. On their website, there are a vast amount of resources that you can explore. They have resources for people who are in dire need of assistance with mental health issues. Additionally, they have an extensive list of mental health disorders so that you can be aware of the afflictions that people or ourselves may have.
Safe in our World on the NZXT Club Podcast
To further illustrate the work that they do, please listen to the NZXT Club Cast that we recorded last week with a member from Safe in our World, Gina Jackson. She has extensive experience in the games industry developing games since the days of the SNES to modern consoles such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Additionally, Gina has focused game development education across the UK in mainstream education. Her current focus is to try to illustrate to the public how games can positively impact people’s wellbeing and their legitimacy as an art form. In fact, she was awarded an ODE for her work in the games industry in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
During the podcast, Gina talked to Denis and Ivan about her current focus on creating a program to help the wellness of community managers across the gaming industry, how mental health has been seen in the gaming industry and the shifts in its perception across time, and general topics about mental health awareness. Please take a listen to get more insight from Gina and mental health. But we also wanted to ask her some questions for our blog to provide more insight about her and Safe in our World.
How did Safe in Your World come about?
It came about by a number of friends and colleagues wanting to raise money for mental health charities and then thinking that they would like a charity to address some of the challenges they were seeing, they couldn’t see one locally so they created their own. Other trustees like me came on board after a UK government mission to China and the China Joy Expo where we spent a week together and discussed the idea more and more and the impact we could have and the way we thought the charity’s mission would resonate with some many people we knew and worked with.
What do you do when you are feeling stressed or anxious?
I have been working hard during the pandemic and the lockdowns we have had in the UK by focusing on some of the basics; eating healthy food, reducing alcohol intake and exercising. I am part of a super supportive online community where we all encourage each other to move regularly. We set our own goals and then report daily about how we are doing both mentally and physically. It has an incredible impact for me, when I lose motivation I use the group to help me get back on track. I feel online communities are too often only associated only with toxicity. The support of others can be really powerful.
What should people look out for when they feel like their friends or struggling? What advice would you have for them?
If you get the opportunity to go on some mental health training, take it. For me it has been really illuminating and empowering. I believe we are more comfortable talking about physical health because we understand the physical part of our bodies more. If one of your friends’ behaviour changes, for example, if they become withdrawn, that could be a sign but also there might not be any change in behaviour, We are all good at finding ways to protect ourselves. If you are worried, be open, honest, and non-judgemental.
What are some simple changes any company can make to better support employees?
Join the Safe in our world Level up programme, this is a public and internal organizational commitment to taking the first steps, talk about it internally. For our programme we provide support and a toolkit to start workplaces to make changes.
How can we all help to de-stigmatize mental health issues?
Most of us can be just a little bit more honest about how we are feeling, in the same way we are about our physical health, be less judgemental, and give a little more support to each other. I am lucky enough to see the impact that sharing stories has on our website, how people feel supported in our Discord server, and how much community managers are looking forward to mental health training.
Why did you, personally, go into the mental health field?
I have worked in games for a long time, I have seen how practices have had an impact on a lot of us. I think there are different ways of doing things, better process and structure, being able to step back and be open and honest. About how we are feeling. As a woman working in games development for 30 years I have often been different to the rest of the team and that difference hasn’t often been celebrated. I love working with game developers, I adore their creativity and passion so anything I can do to help people create their dreams; create a sustainable business and allow players to have great fun then I really want to be involved..
The conversation around mental health doesn’t end with Mental Health awareness month. Please join the NZXT Discord and visit Safe in our World’s website to continue the conversation and support each other on our journeys.