Using Serious Games for Mental Health Education

Using Serious Games for Mental Health Education

Anya Andrews (Novonics Corporation, Training Technology Lab (TTL), USA), Rachel Joyce (University of Central Florida, USA) and Clint Bowers (University of Central Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-739-8.ch013
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A significant number of research and experimentation efforts are currently underway to identify the effective ways of leveraging advanced gaming technologies towards the development of innovative training and education solutions for the mental health domain. This chapter identifies mental health training and education needs of modern “at risk” populations and discusses the potential of serious games as instructional interventions for addressing those needs. Special attention is paid to the importance of prevention training and ways to facilitate prevention by using serious games. Within the chapter, the authors cite a number of specific mental health-related serious game efforts and discuss design considerations for effective serious games.
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Modern Mental Health Training And Education Needs

The modern mental health training and education needs are very diverse, ranging from addiction-based disorders (e.g. alcoholism, gambling, and substance abuse) to psychological stress disorders, acute and post-traumatic, resulting from military and non-military stress-inducing events, such as combat stress, domestic violence, traumatic loss, sexual assault, economic hardship, etc. Although virtually everyone can be considered at risk of any of the above-mentioned stress inducers, the current composition of “at risk” populations for mental health disorders is largely represented by the military personnel and their families. Research has shown that deployment stressors and exposure to combat result in considerable risks of mental health problems, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), major depression, substance abuse, impairment in social functioning and in the ability to work, and the increased use of health care services.

According to a report issued by the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health in June 2007, the mental healthcare system of the U.S. armed forces is currently unable to meet the mental health needs of its service members. The task force concluded that military health system lacks the resources and fully trained staff to meet the mental healthcare needs for troops and their families. Social stigma represents the primary barrier to care with the current psychological screening procedures still unable to mitigate the bias against seeking mental health services. Family members have poor access to psychological health training and education due to insufficient availability of relevant training programs and general lack of coordination between military organizations dealing with mental health care of military personnel. Too much emphasis is currently placed on short-term treatment models, while not enough support is being provided for prevention purposes and long-term management of chronic disorders. The key recommendation made by the task force calls the Department of Defense to build a “culture of support for psychological health” by updating research and providing access to effective training and education about mental health to military personnel and their families throughout the entire military life continuum.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Does Game Technology Matter?
Jan Cannon-Bowers, Clint Bowers
Chapter 1
Peter A Smith, Alicia Sanchez
The concept of mini-games has long been associated with small uninspired games found in conventional Computer Based Training (CBT). They have... Sample PDF
Mini-Games with Major Impacts
Chapter 2
Rudy McDaniel, Stephen M. Fiore, Denise Nicholson
In this chapter, the authors explore the nature and function of storytelling in serious games. Drawing from the field of narratology, they explore... Sample PDF
Serious Storytelling: Narrative Considerations for Serious Games Researchers and Developers
Chapter 3
Holly Blasko-Drabik, Tim Smoker, Carrie E. Murphy
Usability testing can be used as an effective tool throughout the design and development of a serious game. User responses to the usability measures... Sample PDF
An Adventure in Usability: Discovering Usability Where It Was Not Expected
Chapter 4
Modern computer gaming technology offers a rich potential as a platform for the creation of compelling immersive training systems, and there have... Sample PDF
Development of Game-Based Training Systems: Lessons Learned in an Inter-Disciplinary Field in the Making
Chapter 5
David Metcalf, Sara Raasch, Clarissa Graffeo
This chapter discusses DAU CardSim, a multiplayer card game for teaching defense acquisition strategies, and addresses the challenges in moving from... Sample PDF
DAU CardSim: Paper Prototyping an Acquisitions Card Game
Chapter 6
Christopher Ault, Ann Warner-Ault, Ursula Wolz, Teresa Marrin Nakra
Despite the maturation of the video games medium, most self-identified learning games take the traditional but flawed approach of transmitting... Sample PDF
Kinesthetic Communication for Learning in Immersive Worlds
Chapter 7
Henry Kelly
The quality of the U.S. workforce is critical for a competitive economy in today’s fast-paced, tightly connected global economy. Given current... Sample PDF
How Games and Simulations Can Help Meet America's Challenges in Science Mathematics and Technology Education
Chapter 8
Cleotilde Gonzalez, Lisa Czlonka
This chapter presents an investigation on decision-making in a dynamic and complex situation, the solution of international conflict, and the... Sample PDF
Games for Peace: Empirical Investigations with PeaceMaker
Chapter 9
Mihai Nadin
This study highlights the findings of researchers who, since the early 1980s, recognized the potential of engaging seniors in game interactions as... Sample PDF
Play's the Thing. A Wager on Healthy Aging
Chapter 10
Yolanda A. Rankin, Marcus W. Shute
Serious games designed for educational purposes promote acquisition of knowledge and skills that are valued in the both the virtual realm and the... Sample PDF
Re-Purposing a Recreational Video Game as a Serious Game for Second Language Acquisition
Chapter 11
Ross Shegog
Serious games are gaining profile as a novel strategy to impact health behavior change in the service of national health objectives. Research has... Sample PDF
Application of behavioral theory in computer game design for health behavior change
Chapter 12
Claudia L. McDonald
Medical education faces a host of obstacles in coming decades requiring that it rethink the way it delivers medical curricula, especially with... Sample PDF
Avatars and Diagnosis: Delivering Medical Curricula in Virtual Space
Chapter 13
Anya Andrews, Rachel Joyce, Clint Bowers
A significant number of research and experimentation efforts are currently underway to identify the effective ways of leveraging advanced gaming... Sample PDF
Using Serious Games for Mental Health Education
Chapter 14
Pervasive Health Games  (pages 260-269)
Martin Knöll
Prevention and therapy of emerging lifestyle diseases are strongly linked to daily behavior, physical activity, and knowledge of healthy life. The... Sample PDF
Pervasive Health Games
Chapter 15
Jeanne D. Johnston, Lee Sheldon, Anne P. Massey
Physical inactivity is largely preventable through education, individual, and/or community-based interventions. Yet, in the college-age population... Sample PDF
Influencing Physical Activity and Healthy Behaviors in College Students: Lessons from an Alternate Reality Game
Chapter 16
Alicia Sanchez, Janis A. Cannon-Bowers, Clint Bowers
Using video games to train and educate is a notion that is gaining traction among gamers, parents, and serious educators alike. Unfortunately, to... Sample PDF
Establishing a Science of Game Based Learning
Chapter 17
Jan Cannon-Bowers
Despite the fact that people have been playing games since before recorded history, the field of Serious Games—as a scientifically valid and viable... Sample PDF
The Way Ahead for Serious Games
About the Contributors