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Board games and mental health

Board gaming and mental healthThere have been many articles written about how board gaming improves general health, connections and communication between people. People need the kind of interpersonal interaction you don’t get from watching TV or playing an online MMORPG. Depending on the game being played, they can help improve reasoning, deduction, negotiation, spelling and language, storytelling, co-operation, mental and physical dexterity, problem-solving and reaction times, to name but a few. And a 2013 article in the BMJ concluded that “a possible beneficial effect of board game playing on the risk of dementia could be mediated by less cognitive decline and less depression in elderly board game players”.

Many people will have bad memories of being soundly thrashed at Monopoly in their youth. Or maybe sitting round a Scrabble board while those “in the know” are cleaning up by playing QI and ZA on premium tiles while you are still struggling with the more straightforward words. Whereas, modern board games are much more conducive to people having a good time and getting together for an enjoyable games night.

In this video, which is tough to watch at times, Michael May tells how board gaming has helped him cope with depression and social anxiety. He explains that a game night can give someone in his situation a safe framework and an expected course of events, through which to engage with other people. Beginning with games against existing friends, Michael was able to push himself out of his comfort zone, to go to game nights with strangers. Also, playing games at home can help to improve family bonds and help to overcome differences and disagreements, by bringing people together and giving the participants a task to focus on as a group (and possibly co-operative games such as Pandemic or Forbidden Island would work well here). And of course any laughing that may ensue, increases happiness!

Michael’s YouTube Channel also reviews a large number of board games, and you can subscribe to it here.