UK Esports Team Committee and Play Aid increase focus on mental health in esports
4 May 2023
Just last week, we wrote an article about esports at universities in the UK and which universities have the most gamers. This once again underlined the rapidly growing popularity of esports in the UK, not just at universities but in general as well. In many markets around the world, esports is becoming more and more of a serious career choice, which will inevitably lead to more competition and more pressure as well. That’s why mental health and its importance to esporters has been a topic of discussion for a while now. What kind of pressures are professional players dealing with? Can they ask for help and if so, how? Or if not, why not?
The UK Esports Team Committee (UKETC) takes this topic very seriously as well, which is why, in collaboration with international NGO Play Aid, they have recently announced the inclusion of psychological first aiders at every interested esports organisation in the UK.
What is Psychological First Aid?
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an expertise that is officially recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in relation to the detection of early signs of mental distress, such as depression or anxiety. It involves humane and practical assistance for people who are distressed, provided in ways that are respectful of the person. PFA was originally created as a way to relieve the consequences of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), but is used in various other contexts nowadays, including professional gaming.
What are psychological first aiders?
As you most likely will have concluded by now, psychological first aiders are people who are trained to provide Psychological First Aid. In every way possible, these individuals are trained to help others with mental issues and in this particular case, those “others” are the members of various esports organisations in the UK. Together with Play Aid, the UKETC has offered UK esports organisations to help them train their own psychological first aiders in order to help professional esporters overcome mental health issues and to work on their mental wellbeing.
“We believe that every esports team should have access to psychological first aid”, writes the UKETC on its own website, “And we hope that this collaboration will help to encourage other teams in the space to take the mental health of their staff and athletes seriously […] By having a psychological first aider within every team, players can receive immediate support and guidance during a crisis, helping them to navigate their emotions and build resilience”.
The initiative by Play Aid and the UKETC has rapidly piqued the interests of more than a few well-known esports organisations in the UK. These include Fnatic, MNM Gaming and EXCEL Esports, as well as Manchester City Esports, just to name a few examples.
“We are thrilled to partner with teams within the UKETC to promote the importance of psychological first aid in esports teams”, says Dr. John Mills, Managing Director at Play Aid, “By providing free Psychological First Aid training, we hope to empower esports teams across the world to better support their players’ mental health and wellbeing”.