Harvard Psychiatrist Dr. Kanojia, Mental Health for Gamers
Mental health for gamers is needed on the Internet and Harvard Psychiatrist Streamer Dr. Kanojia is here to help. theScore esports journalist Devin Jones reports: “This is the story of a Twitch channel called Healthy Gamer. Where a Harvard-trained psychiatrist broadcasts interviews with some big name Twitch streamers and thousands tune in to listen. Let us tell you the story.”
theScore esports interviewed our co-founder, Dr. Alok Kanojia (referred to in this piece as “the Harvard Psychiatrist who streams to thousands”) about Healthy Gamer: how it got started, what it stands for, and how Healthy Gamer is changing the landscape for mental health on Twitch.
Healthy Gamer is Redefining Mental Health for Gamers
Dr. K tells theScore esports helping video game addiction is about understanding the gamer. Harvard Psychiatrist Dr. Kanojia says “Healthy Gamer is about helping build healthy lives, and it’s mental health by gamers for gamers. it’s facing challenges you face, not just in terms of getting a job or finding a girlfriend, it’s helping you understand yourself that you find enriching and fulfilling.” To frame what he means by video game addiction, Dr. Kanojia says “if it causes a problem, it is a problem.” To get a full picture of how video game addiction is a behavioral addiction and thus different from substance/biological addictions, read more in the link below.
Harvard Psychiatrist Streamer Dr. K Interviews on Twitch
Dr. Kanojia also talks with streamers on the Healthy Gamer Twitch Channel. For example, when Dr. Kanojia asked Reckful about his depression, Reckful said, “it’s really hard to explain, the easiest way to explain is that I’ve had years of my life where I wake up every day and don’t see a purpose doing anything”
The key is finding a purpose. Dr. K helped Reckful put into words the purpose behind Everland, Reckful’s community-based video game. Dr. Kanojia responded: “So I’ll tell you Reckful, listen carefully, you are trying to cure the depression that is growing within kids out there today, you are trying to protect them from what happened to you.”
A few weeks later Reckful uploaded a video where he said he was happy even when he is doing nothing or when he is alone.
Twitch streamers have unique challenges from being public figures that affect their mental health. Additionally, streamers also have mental health problems that many people can relate to such as depression, trauma, or anxiety. Dr. Kanojia tries to keep his goal with the Healthy Gamer Twitch stream simple, saying “Sometimes I remind myself that I show up and try to help the person, whether he is famous or not famous, streamer or a regular person. it makes no difference I have 1 hour, let’s see what I can do, how can I help how can I be of service, that’s my dharma, that’s my duty or responsibility.”
Twitch Streamer and Viewer Expectations
When asked how to balance helping people and expectations of an audience, Dr. K responded,
“I started noticing things within myself that other streamers struggle with. So when we started to get more viewers, I caught myself looking at my viewer count. I caught myself wanting to grow my viewer count. I thought, ‘oh, that’s interesting my mind is gravitating towards wanting me to have a bigger viewer count because then it feels like I am doing a better job’. I realized that wasn’t healthy at all. There is this performative aspect, this sort of sense that I don’t want to disappoint people on stream. I think that is the toughest thing, people have an expectation and within an hour, hour and a half that I am going to do something magical to transform their lives.”
As a mental health platform for gamers, Healthy Gamer’s goal on Twitch is to help gamers of all stripes: pros, streamers, or the every day Andy. If you struggle with video game addiction, join our Discord.