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How to help our kids with back to school / COVID anxiety

My kids are ten and eight, and like just about all kids of that age, they are back to school. This is… nerve-wracking. Okay, as a parent, despite my best efforts, it is ALWAYS nerve-wracking. I’m not the only one I am sure, but every time I drop my kids off at school, it kinda feels like my heart skips a nip. Part of the time, I guess. The fact that they go to a Jewish Day School probably doesn’t help the anxiety, all things considered. But, in the years they have gone there, it has been a wonderful place, and they love it.

Anyway, this year is obviously slightly different than most – even different than last year, when we thought things would be more normal now. Alas, they aren’t, and this begs the question: What can we do for our kids? Now that they are back in school, or will be shortly, how can we help them cope with the added anxiety that this year will bring? 

I’ve had a few thoughts in my head and also done some research. Here’s what I can glean.

First, my own experience: Be honest with them. Obviously, that honesty has to be tempered by how old and mature that kid is. But my kids have found comfort in the reality of the situation. I’ve been honest: I can’t guarantee they won’t get COVID or that someone they love won’t get it. But, everyone who loves them has been vaccinated, and this virtually guarantees that we’d survive getting sick. Furthermore, even if they get sick, the vast majority of kids who get sick are okay. That is not to minimize the risks, but it does help put things in perspective. That seems to help.

Second, make sure not to take away a kids’ sense of agency or control. That has to be tempered with realism, and unfortunately, as we all know, even the most careful of people can get COVID. That being said, there are lots of things they can do: Wear masks, keep their distance, wash their hands, all that. Anxiety is largely a result of learned helplessness and making sure kids know that they can influence their own safety can help them feel better.

Third, use this as a teachable moment. The Child Mind Institute article that I highlighted notes that anxiety isn’t going to be “resolved,” per se – it’s about making sure our kids know that there is uncertainty in this world. Broaden the scope of this conversation. There are things you and your kids can do to minimize your risks and prevent getting sick, but beyond that…you live as best you can. This helps to make sure your kids know they are doing everything possible, but from there, they have to tolerate the uncertainty that comes with life. 

Fourth, make sure to be a good role model. Tell your kids when you are anxious – but also tell them how you are coping. This is just our style of parenting, but my wife and I have found that honesty works with our kids. We never really try to hide our struggles or our mistakes – instead, we show how we are trying to make them better. 

Last, remember, listening helps. As a parent, you’d give anything to keep your kids safe, but the truth is that you can’t 100% guarantee their safety, regardless of whether or not there is a pandemic going on. Alas, we can’t make that guarantee, and kids know it. As such, sometimes, all you can do is listen. We can’t make guarantees, but things like reminding kids that they have control over quite a bit of their lives and that we are there to help – that matters. As such, listen to their fears. Validate them. And, if your kids want, try to work on solutions together. 

These are just a few of the tips out there, and there are plenty of more. Have anything to add? Let us know in the comments!

No, masks don’t cause depression or suicide…damnit

Sigh. I can’t believe I have to write this, but yeah, I do.

Alright, some background. Many schools in the Lehigh Valley – my region – are choosing to act like grown-ups and require that kids go to schools with masks. This is, of course, stirring up passionate feelings in a small but vocal minority of people. They are using a variety of arguments…masking hurts breathing (what?), it’s bad for kids in general (no), or that it causes depression, suicide, and self-harm. Yes, that’s right.

From an Easton Area School Board meeting, where this issue was being discussed:

Of course, this belief is…what’s the word I am looking for…oh, right, it has no bearing in reality.

Let’s review the facts. A September 2020 study found that face masks are effective against contracting COVID-19, and that this directly led to IMPROVED mental health. A variety of theories have been put forward about why face masks can cause depression, but unless I am missing something, no factual evidence has pointed to masks leading to depression.

I don’t want to make it sound like there aren’t potential issues: There are. Masks can cause kids a stress response and make them more afraid of going out. Of course…that may also be attributable to the global, deadly pandemic that has killed millions. Others have also noted that this may hurt a kids’ ability to read faces and social cues. Again, I think that makes sense. Of course, we’re dealing in a world where there are no good decisions, just slightly less bad ones, and a delayed ability to read facial expressions is probably preferable to getting COVID.

Now, you know what can cause mental health harm?

Keeping kids out of school: A slew of studies has made it clear that an overreliance on digital media can damage a kids’ mental health, intellectual ability, and real-life friendships. Of course, digital school is better than none at all, but there is no question about it: Keeping kids in school is the best possible option for their mental health. And on that front, the evidence is clear: Masks in school can slow the spread of COVID and keep kids in school.

Taking a science-based approach to COVID that involves vaccination and universal masking is the best way to keep kids healthy, safe, and in school

I don’t know a single person on earth who is excited about masking. I don’t know anyone who thinks, “YAY I WANNA PUT A CLOTH ON OVER MY FACE.” I certainly don’t. Masks are annoying. But they keep me safe, and they keep others around me safe. I’ll happily slap one over my ugly mug if it means keeping others safe, and I’ll even cover up the beautiful faces of my children if it means keeping others around them healthy.

This is a no-brainer. It’s an easy decision. And anyone who argues otherwise has agendas that are far different than they claim.

How can you find the most accurate information on mental health?

Brace yourselves: I’m going meta

I’ve been thinking of ways to expand the mental health advocacy work that I try to do on the internet of late and looking at other ways of communicating with people, including things like YouTube videos. On one hand, I truly believe in the power of the internet and its good. On the other hand…yeah. It’s the internet, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the internet has somewhat of a fake-news problem. This is bad enough when talking about issues like politics, but when you start to get into life-changing issues, such as mental illness or COVID-19, it can be deadly.

I mean, seriously, think about that for a second: How many people have died because of internet-based fake news? Hundreds from COVID-19 alone – and probably more.

All of this got me thinking: How can you use the internet to find the most accurate and best mental health tips? Some thoughts, from someone who truly tries to give you the best information possible:

  • Consider the source: Mental Health America has a great entry on this subject, and this bullet might be the most accurate. The source matters. No one should be making a claim without backing. No one should say that “research says” without linking to the research, and even if they do link to research, make sure to consider the quality of the research: A NIH study matters a heck of a lot more than a study on JimmysMentalHealth.com. I try not to make any claims that aren’t fact-based, and any internet research you do should stick to that idea. I’d also add this: Expertise matters. Consider someone’s perspective, education, and training before folding in their advice to your life. For example, I’d consider the input of a professional therapist much more valuable than my own perspective.
  • Get a second – and third – opinion: Let me be clear about this: My opinion may be wrong. Anyone’s opinion may be wrong. This is why you should always get a second and third opinion on an issue. Someone suggesting a way of dealing with something? Before you incorporate it into your life, do additional research. Examine if other people have tried the same strategy, and determine their success.
  • Timeliness matters: A link from 1999 is not as impactful as a link from the same subject in 2019. If someone is telling you that the “latest research” shows something, make sure to check the timeliness of that research. That’s not to say that there are intentional efforts to mislead, but time can obviously have a major impact on the timeliness of the information that you receive.
  • Is there a business connection: This may come as a shock, but people try to sell you things on the Internet. As such, if someone is listing information about a specific technique or product, ask yourself this important question: What are they trying to sell you? To be clear, there is nothing wrong with someone using information and research to sell you a product. The product may be perfectly valid, and the information may be as well. But, if there is a commercial input, you should make sure to do your own research about its effectiveness.
  • Google the source: Unsure about the source? Google it. You may find additional information about the source’s perspective, bias, or past ethical challenges.

There are other tips, without a doubt, and I’d love to hear them. What have you found is the best way to get the most accurate information on the internet, especially when it comes to mental health? Please leave your tips below!!

The danger of the reaction to Simone Biles

I suspect that most of you are well aware of the Simone Biles situation right now, but in a nutshell, it’s this: Biles, who I think is the best gymnast in the world (gotta confess my ignorance to gymnastics here), dropped out of the Olympics, citing a variety of physical and emotional problems. As I type this, she may still perform in some events, but I’m not sure.

Let me start by stating the obvious: I have absolutely, positively zero idea of what is going on in Mrs. Biles head, aside from what she has said publicly. Also, I have no right to know anything else. Neither do you. Neither do any of us. Know what? She doesn’t owe us a damn thing. I’m not sure why anyone feels entitled to know what is happening in her head – or anyone else’s – but all humans have a right to basic dignity and worth, even the most elite athletes on the planet. If she says she isn’t in a position to compete safely, cool. Know who gets to decide that? Her, and her alone. 

Of course, it is never that simple, and because the world is a terrible place, there is no shortage of morons criticizing her. Fine, whatever. Some people are terrible, though I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by the fact that most people are either supporting her or shutting the hell up. Either of those options is more than acceptable.

But, I worry about the impact of Biles’ decision to drop out. Let me be crystal clear here: I do not worry about the impact because of anything that Biles did. She bears zero responsibility for the reaction of morons to her personal decisions, and any negative ramifications are because of the people attacking her, not her own actions.

I worry because I worry about all the people who are seeing backlash and doubting themselves. I come back to this tweet:

Yep. How many people struggling will see the moronic mouth-droppings of people like the Deputy Attorney General of Texas, who called Biles a “national embarrassment“? How many little black girls will think that their mental and physical health is not worth protecting?

I want to approach this from a broader perspective because it needs to be said: Other people who are struggling with their mental health are watching the reaction to Biles. I hope that they can see the fact that the vast majority of the response – including from worldwide leaders and other Olympic athletes – is overwhelmingly supportive. But, I suspect they won’t. If you’ve been depressed, you are familiar with the cognitive bias that is the Confirmation Bias: You see things that confirm what you already think. If you already think that the world judges you, all you will see is more tweets of someone like you being judged. 

So…what should this entire issue inspire all of us to do? I can think of a few things off-hand:

  • Talk to your kids about mental health. Tell them why it matters.
  • If you’re going to discuss Simone Biles, make sure to contextualize your comments. She is a person. She deserves the same autonomy that you expect for yourself or people you care about. Put yourself in her shoes and ask how you would want the words that came out of your mouth to sound.
  • If you know people who are struggling, and you feel comfortable doing so, it may be worth approaching them about this topic with supportive words. Biles’ struggles and pains are shared by millions. They all deserve the same level of love and respect.

As always, I’d welcome your thoughts. I encourage all of you to be kind and empathetic!

“Noomifying” – and thus “Gamifying” – Depression & Anxiety

A dear friend was telling me about her very positive experience – thus far – with Noom. Just in case you’ve missed the ads (they are all over my YouTube feed, so I must be in their target demographic), here’s the basic gist: Noom is a weight loss website/app/program. There is a charge associated with it (I think it’s $40 a month), but it gives you access to a slew of resources, including weight loss trackers, recipes, fitness goals, articles, and more. The app then gives you “points” for completing tasks, like reading articles or tracking your food.

This buddy of mine is an achievement lover – she’s was laughing as she told me that she has actually done Duolingo for over 1,000 days, even though she doesn’t care that much anymore – simply because she doesn’t want to lose her streak. This fascinated me. Noom apparently gives you little tasks – walk 3,000 steps, for example – and then slowly ups the ante. It thus creates a runway of small, achievable goals. It’s also largely psychology-based, giving users the opportunity to learn more about the mindset behind weight loss and encouraging them to identify flaws in their thinking that lead to more weight gain, or at least less weight loss.

Noom also divides food into three categories – green, yellow, and red. You limit your intake of yellow and red but are free to enjoy green.

This fascinated me. The problem with many of these diets is that you have to stay on them forever or they stop working, like Atkins. But as I understand Noom, it seems to be based on changing the way people think and their lifestyle. This strikes me as having the potential for more success.

Does it work? Yeah, maybe. Noom has an array of research on their website, but it’s unquestionably worth doing a bit of digging on your own. From what I could find, yes. It does seem to work.

All of this being said, I wasn’t trying to write about Noom and weight loss. As my friend was explaining this to me, it made me think: How can we gamify depression the same way?

What would that look like? Hard to say. After all, weight loss isn’t like depression, and depression can often be harder to shake free than weight loss is to lose. However, the lifestyle-centric nature of Noom is what strikes me as having the highest possibility to work, and a lifestyle change with an app – replete with professional resources, access to counselors, tasks you can complete that provide you a sense of accomplishment – that is interesting to me.

Aspects of the Noom app are gamification. You complete certain tasks, you get achievements or rewards. It steers your brain in a certain direction by creating artificial awards that reward desired behavior. Could you do that for depression? Again, hard. But not impossible.

I’m not the only one to come up with this idea, of course, and people smarter than me have written about, researched, and studied this concept. That research has been positive: It appears that a well-design app can actually improve mood and rates of depression.

This begs the question: What more can we do to gamify depression and anxiety treatment? What controls are needed to ensure that these apps go well and that users don’t experience a crisis – or become worse – while using an app? I don’t have answers, but I do believe that the potential is clearly there.

Suicide attempts among teen girls rise – but suicides fell….

There is a strange disconnect among findings that came out a few weeks ago from the Centers for Disease Control, and I think it is one worth examining.

First, from the Centers for Disease Control:

In the early months of 2021, visits to emergency departments for suspected suicide attempts increased roughly 50 percent for adolescent girls compared with the same period in 2019, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The same article makes a few other very salient points:

  • Suicide attempts began to rise in May 2020.
  • Suicide attempts among girls rose 50.6% compared to the prior year, but a mere 3.7% among boys.
  • Similar increases were NOT observed amongst men and women, aged 18-25.

There’s a lot of places to look at this, and the gender differentiation is genuinely fascinating. What on earth could cause such a difference in terms of the differences between men and women?

That being said, there’s a different question I want to ask: How is it possible that ATTEMPTS rose so much, but suicide deaths declined? As I wrote about previously – and has been written about by people much smarter than me – preliminary data indicates that suicides declined by 5.6% during the same time period that suicide visits among this demographic increased so dramatically. How can this be?

There are, of course, many possible answers.

First, the data released by the CDC is preliminary. There isn’t a breakdown of completed suicides by demographics. This means that it is very possible that suicide attempts – and completed suicides – rose among the demographic we are discussing, but that they declined enough in other demographics to offset this rise. It’s also possible that the suicide attempts were less serious attempts that were less likely to result in death. Typically, women are more likely to survive a suicide attempt, as they tend to use less lethal means. It is also worth noting that women are three times more likely to attempt suicide than men, but men are 3-5 times more likely to die of suicide than women.

The one thing that the report does make clear – and that is unquestionably true – is that this could have major public health implications and implications for parents. Young women seem to be in a more fragile state of mental health than their male counterparts, and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we are taking the steps necessary to protect their mental health.

I’d also go one step further: What are the health implications for the poor young women who wound up in a hospital? What health risks do they face? What ongoing care do they need at home, and at school? What questions do we need to answer?

Regardless, this is something that is unquestionably worth monitoring in the future.

Good public policy can improve mental health, part 9,645,856

There’s a new study available that shows that, for the gazillionth time, public policy can truly make a positive impact on mental health.

First, the study itself. It specifically pertains to the most recent rounds of stimulus checks. Specifically:

A new analysis of Census Bureau surveys argues that the two latest rounds of aid significantly improved Americans’ ability to buy food and pay household bills and reduced anxiety and depression, with the largest benefits going to the poorest households and those with children. The analysis offers the fullest look at hardship reduction under the stimulus aid…Among all households, frequent anxiety and depression fell by more than 20 percent.

This is a remarkable number. Direct financial aid helped to improve rates of depression and anxiety.

It’s also unsurprising. Generally speaking, wealth is not directly related to suicide rates, but subjects related to wealth are. For example, living near people who are wealthier than you may lead to increased rates of suicide. A decline in income – often one that leads to homelessness, housing insecurity, or unemployment – is correlated with higher suicide rates. Furthermore, a landmark study from a couple of years ago showed that raising the minimum wage can directly reduce suicide.

We also know that expanding access to health care can make a positive impact on suicide rates. Of course, you don’t need an advanced degree in public policy to figure out why: When you make health care easier to obtain, this usually involves mental health care, and this means people can be treated for their mental illnesses. This, in turn, can help to attack these illnesses and make someone feel better.

There are ancillary reasons why this is true, as well. One of the less-discussed causes of suicide is pain and chronic pain – I actually had a dear friend lose someone very close to her because of her partner’s pain. Medical care, of course, can treat or mitigate the impacts of countless diseases. This, in turn, can improve someone’s quality of life – and help prevent suicide.

Last, the third rail of politics: Gun control. Like it or not, means reduction policies – policies that make it harder for someone who is suicidal to get a gun – can help to reduce suicide rates. For example, there is a well-established link between gun ownership and suicide. Furthermore, states with stricter gun laws tend to have lower suicide rates. In other words, we CAN do something about suicide rates in government, we already have done quite a bit, and we can do a lot more.

Suicide is not something that just happens. It is not some magical, mystical thing that we have no control over. Yes, there are factors that are well beyond governmental control…but there are also plenty of things we can do to reduce suicide. Things we must have the courage and fortitude to do. I’ve always found mental health to be an under-tapped political issue. Many people know its pain – more than we are willing to admit. And I wish more people spoke about this issue for both the sake of politics and policy.

Okay, seriously…how is it possible that suicide numbers dropped during the pandemic?

We may be close to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the scars of this battle will remain with society for a long, long time. Among the more devastating damages of COVID-19 have been the toll on mental health, with increasing signs of mental illness, greater addiction rates, increased use of mental health resources

…and a decline in suicides…

Wait, what?

Yeah. I don’t get it either. But, according to preliminary data, suicides went down in 2020:

 From 2019 to 2020, deaths by suicide declined by 5.6%, from 47,511 to 44,834, per the CDC. It was the third consecutive year of decline. Suicides [also] went down in April and May of last year, a different trend than in years past, Farida Ahmad, health scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, tells Axios.

This is astonishing. And it defies expectations, with many predicting that COVID and the economic shutdowns would lead to a massive spike in suicide. And yet, that hasn’t been the case, despite the increase in every other category that would be a predictive factor for an increase in suicides, including mental illness, unemployment, and suicide.

This begs the question…why? What’s going on here? I’ve read a few articles on the subject, and they offer some different thoughts:

  • Telehealth played a big role. In many states, it became easier than ever to access mental health resources, as regulations were waved that enabled people to get access to telehealth. As a result, more people may have been able to seek mental health resources, thus saving their life.
  • There were huge, concentrated efforts to encourage people to get mental health help – maybe more so than ever before. Governor’s across the country spoke about it. People still do to this day. As a result, it seems possible that stigma – once a formidable barrier – was shattered. This may have put more people into mental health help.
  • Some noted that it seemed possible that a “heroism effect” was in place – similar to that which occurs at the start of a war or another catastrophe – where a sense of “we’re all in this together” kept more alive. If this is truly the case, then we need to be cautious, as it seems like that such an impact would fade over time.
  • The pandemic forced a massive reevaluation of the way we look at our lives, as more people found that they could live without certain things, and are thus able to live better lives. This is an interesting philosophical argument, one that may also be playing a role in the decline of workers across the economy.

It is also worth noting that a more advanced look at the data is needed: For example, did suicide decrease more in some groups? Did it particularly spike among teenagers and young adults, groups that were believed to be facing particular difficulties during this pandemic? Furthermore, what about differences among racial and economic demographics? What about people who could work at home versus those who could not?

My opinion? All of the above, and then some. I’d also offer this caution…there is no way, no way, that this is it, that we are now on a glide path towards a permanent reduction of suicide. I am absolutely concerned about the long-term impacts this will have on mental health, as well as how this may drive up suicide rates. There is so much more to this story that we absolutely do not understand, and I really hope that others have more insight than me!

Anything to add? Any thoughts about why suicide may have dropped as it did? Let us know in the comments below!

The Potential – And Frustration – of Mental Health Awareness Month

For decades, May has been “Mental Health Awareness Month,” an event formally observed by governmental actors and non-profit stakeholders alike. As a governmental official, I have seen my share of “awareness” days, weeks, and months, and taken the opportunity to deliver quite a few proclamations. Some of them get absurd. My all-time favorite was “Lake Awareness Month.” Different story.

Anyway, these events are important. They give people the chance to highlight timely and relevant societal ills and issues. They give advocates a platform to speak their mind and discuss what important things are occurring within their universe. For mental health advocates, it gives us a chance to talk about the signs of mental illness, suicide prevention, and talk about our issues in front of broader forms. At their core “awareness” events are useful tools for generating media attention and making sure that the public has an idea of what you are up to.

For issues like mental illness – issues that remain highly stigmatized or self-stigmatized – this is very, very important. These events can seem trite sometimes, but they do have meaning, as they can help steer people towards resources or make them become aware of problems from which they or a loved one suffers.

There’s a heck of a “but” here, though. It’s as simple as this: Awareness shouldn’t be confused for action.

What do I mean? Alright, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to an event on some important issue or other and listened to other elected officials talk about why this issue was so important. Here’s the thing: I KNOW that the elected official who is there wouldn’t do a thing to lift up the issue. We all show up at events – that’s good, and to be expected. But showing up at an event and collecting kudos for being present somewhere is a cheap way of scoring points. To quote an expression that President Biden attributes to his Dad, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

This is huge. I’m tired of hearing nice words. Match it with funding, and tell me how you’d get the money to make it happen. Presentations, citations, awareness, it’s not enough. Give me the cold, hard cash to fund the programs necessary to help people.

So, what does this mean for a normal person? Well, simply. First, if someone shows up with a proclamation or a card, that’s great. It’s important. I never want to take away from the action of bringing attention to an important and relevant topic. However, that’s not enough, and don’t let any politician get away with it. Instead of saying thank you and posting for pictures, ask your elected official what they are doing on mental health. What issues are they involved with, specifically? What funding increases are they examining? Are the open for a meeting when you can talk to them more?

Oh, and let me add: This strategy and these comments don’t just apply to mental health and mental illness. They can work across the board on any number of issues.

At the end of the day, awareness is great. For some issues – particularly ones that are under-discussed, they are huge. But it’s not enough. Don’t let any politician tell you that it is.

Depression as a Roguelike

Okay, let me say right off the bat that this entry is going to be nerdy. I mean, SUPER nerdy. Video game genre level of nerdy. That being said, even if you aren’t that level of nerd, I think this entry may have something to offer you that you can connect with.

My favorite type of genre of video games, I have finally come to realize, is a type of game called “roguelikes.” Hear me out. Stop rolling your eyes. I promise this will get to depression and mental health.

So, Roguelikes. They’re games in which you have to get to the end. My favorite all-time Roguelike – maybe my favorite all-time game at this point – is one called Enter the Gungeon. I cannot understate how obsessed I am with this one.

Games like this are designed for you to die. Like, a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. They are typically very, very difficult games. What makes them a little extra special – and extra difficult – is that they’re never the same. The games often use a randomization procedure known as “procedural generation.” In these games, levels and bad guys will change. Layouts change. And while the game will follow the same certain pattern, it’s never the same run through the dungeon.

So, what does this Sisyphean-like task have to do with depression? Well…a lot, actually. Take Enter the Gungeon. You will die a gazillion times in this game before you make it to the final boss – and then all the secret final bosses – which is a different story. But, every time you beat a level boss, you gain these extra tokens. You use those tokens to buy better weapons for your next run. Then, you’re next time, you do a little bit better. You get a little further.

Even more importantly: The more you play, the more you learn the patterns. Like, this little bastard, who my kids call the Pinky Malinky enemy:

 

He’s blurry, but deadly

Pinky Malinky up there will fire a shotgun spread at you as you walked. The first time I ever saw him, I was totally taken aback. The second time, same. By the third time, I had it, and I rolled out of the way. 

Of course, that’s not to say that the knowledge of what he does makes me immune from screwing up. Every now and then, I’ll get distracting by dealing with another one of the little guys that shoot at me, and I’ll take a hit. But I learn. I always learn.

See where I’m going with this?

It’s kind of a weird metaphor, but it does hold. My favorite type of video game genre, Roguelikes, is very, very similar to how all of us battle mental illness. Consider the similarities:

  • No two days are ever really, truly the same – but you recognize the patterns.
  • Recognizing the patterns of a Roguelike level means you can learn how to better cope with an attack.
  • Once you learn the patterns, you have a better shot at defeating your enemies.
  • The bad guys appear in different orders, at different times, and in combination with different things, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t different.
  • Just because you know how to kill them doesn’t mean you always will. Sometimes you have a terrible day and get a Game Over at level one. Other times, you make it to the final boss without batting an eye.
  • Randomness plays an important role – but your skill often is what makes the difference.

Look, video games are an important part of my life. They’ve given me a virtually endless source of joy or entertainment, inspired the names of my kids, and taught me some exceptionally valuable life lessons about persistence and creativity. But I do really, truly believe that there are parallels between how we fight depression and how we play some types of games. I hope this helped to provide you with a valuable metaphor, and please let us know in the comments your thoughts.

Now, please listen to this kick-ass soundtrack: