A rather different partnership is in the works between a managed healthcare company and an esports organization. Cloud9 is teaming up with Kaiser Permanente as part of an initiative to improve mental health in the U.S. gaming community. This is just one more sign about how esports, video games, and mental wellness are becoming mainstream.
Why a partnership is needed
The purpose of this partnership is to establish 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 numerous efforts to build a stronger mental and emotional foundation across the nation, specifically targeting the gaming community. This is a necessary focus as it is one market in which mental health has become a growing issue.
The initiative with Cloud9 pairs Kaiser’s mental health experts and clinicians with athletes, coaches, and other staff. The point of this is to engage with youth and young adults in mental conversations in the areas in which they spend their time most.
As part of this initiative, Cloud9 players and staff will receive mental health training. They’ll also be introducing a new content series on Twitch. And thirdly, they’ll be employing a community moderator training and engagement program.
The first phase of this kicks off during May 2020 with Cloud9’s League of Legends team, which is currently ranked first in North America.
The problem with mental health today
The announcement for this partnership comes amid a rapidly-growing concern about youth mental health. On average, one in six U.S. youths experiences a mental health disorder each year. Of all lifetime mental illness, 50% of it begins by the age 14, and 75% manifests by age 24.
One of the few upsides of the Coronavirus pandemic is that it’s encouraging more people to speak openly regarding mental health. According to research from The Public Good Projects, nearly a 50% increase has occurred in mental health conversations over social media since January 2020.
Connecting with the Cloud9 fanbase
The reason for the partnership between Cloud9 and Kaiser Permanente is due to the target demographic. Many youth today play video games and are involved in some form with esports. Gaming and esports is an ever-growing method of staying socially connected, especially during this time of physical isolation. Since stay-at-home restrictions were imposed, the World Health Organization now recognizes the role the gaming industry plays in helping slow the spread of Coronavirus.
Cloud9 CEO Jack Etienne said in a statement that the partnership places a spotlight on mental health and wellness in the esports community. This is an opportunity to set an example for everyone in the industry. He said that gaming and esports has become a refuge for so many during the pandemic, so he wants fans and players to be at their healthiest, both mentally and physically.
Through the training provided by Kaiser, Cloud9 will be better equipped with tools to drive open, nonjudgmental, and honest conversations about mental health in the gaming community.
With regard to the new content series Cloud9 is launching as part of this series, the Presence of Mind initiative will be featured prominently. The series is designed to showcase the real life behind gaming, esports, and elite athletes. An emphasis is placed upon total health, so esports influencers and Kaiser experts will connect on episodes to discuss topics such as coping during the Coronavirus pandemic and combating burnout.
It’ll be interesting to see how this partnership pans out. Mental health is a critically-important aspect for any gamer, so we need to remain conscientious of our own health during the easy and hard times alike.