Esports organization Cloud9 has teamed up with Kaiser Permanente to improve mental health in the U.S. gaming community. It’s another sign of the mainstreaming of esports, video games, and mental wellness efforts.
The Los Angeles-based Cloud9, which runs a number of esports teams for games such as League of Legends and Fortnite, has partnered with the health care and insurance provider on Presence of Mind, a campaign to increase mental health awareness, reduce stigma, and encourage teens and young adults to prioritize their well-being.
Presence of Mind is one of Kaiser’s many efforts to help build a stronger mental and emotional foundation across the nation, and it targets the gaming community, where mental health has been a growing issue.
This initiative with Cloud9 pairs Kaiser mental health experts and clinicians together with athletes, coaches, and staff to engage youth and young adults in mental health conversations in the places where they are spending their time.
Key components of the initiative will include mental health training for Cloud9 players and staff, a new content series on the gaming platform Twitch, and a community moderator training and engagement program. The first phase will kick off in May with Cloud9’s League of Legends team, currently ranked No. 1 in North America and playing an esport that draws the largest viewing audience in the world.
The announcement comes amid growing concern about the mental health. On average, 1-in-6 American young people experience a mental health disorder each year, with 50% of all lifetime mental illness beginning by age 14, and 75% by age 24. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic is leading more people to speak openly about mental health.
According to research from The Public Good Projects, there has been a significant increase — nearly 49% — in mental health conversations over social media since January.
Gaming and esports continue to grow among young people as a way to stay socially connected while physically isolated, especially during the pandemic. Since many governments issued stay-at-home restrictions, the World Health Organization now recognizes the game industry’s role to helping slow the spread of COVID-19.
Kaiser mental health and wellness experts will conduct a series of training sessions with Cloud9’s professional players and staff to help create positive advocates and supporters of mental health and wellness. Through this training, Kaiser Permanente will provide the tools to drive open, nonjudgmental, and honest conversations about mental health within the gaming community.
Kaiser serves more than 12.2 million patients across the U.S.