Unless you have managed to completely detach yourself from social media this summer, the chances are that you have heard of the phenomenon that is known as Pokèmon Go. The augmented reality game is just another branch off of the media franchise, ‘The Pokèmon Company’, which kicked off several decades ago.
The app has been great in providing innovation in the field of augmented reality games as well as reviving Pokèmon itself which for many undoubtedly has caused waves of childhood nostalgia. However, what producers Niantic did not anticipate for was the mental health benefits the game would offer.
Many players of the game have taken to social media outlets to vouch for the beneficial impacts the game has had, especially for anxiety and depression. This can all be attributed to the physical element of the game. Countless amounts of research have indicated the positive impact exercise has on one’s mental well being and needless to say, it is also great for physical health.
Exercise helps lift moods, due to the release of endorphins in the body, which in turn has an anti-depressant effect so can help in relieving not only depression but also other disorders such as anxiety and ADHD. That is not to say that the benefits are exclusive to those with mental health disorders as exercise proves to be a great stress-buster too.
Now I am not suggesting that everyone should jump on the Pokèmon bandwagon as it is by no means a replacement for therapies that are out there already. The app does however cultivate positive and healthy behaviours and could be the motivator for a bit of self-care for many.
Traditionally, mental health treatments have revolved around the use of medication or cognitive therapies. However, with further innovation in augmented reality technology that is available at hand, I for one am looking forward to seeing the impact that this could have for the field of mental health. Imagine being able to treat phobias after virtually seeing the object you fear, pretty cool right? You would not even have to encounter the object in person but when you do, the anxiety’s gone.
Pokèmon Go is undeniably a breakthrough.
Aisha Zahid (@AishaAnbarZahid)