First study to explore relationship between stress and mental ill health in esports published
- Scientific report provides preliminary evidence of the key risk factors underpinning mental ill health in university based esport athletes
- Specific categories of stressors, sleep, burnout, and social phobia anxiety were significant predictors of mental ill health
- Report based on experiences of more than 300 student athletes competing in university esports tournaments
A NEW report has revealed preliminary evidence of the key risk factors which underpin mental ill health in university-based esport athletes.
The findings showed that specific categories of stressors, sleep, burnout, and social phobia anxiety were significant predictors of mental ill health.
Researchers from the University of Chichester, in collaboration with the University of Winchester and King’s College London, examined 313 competitive student esport athletes, who play either Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant or Rainbow Six Siege.
The incidence of mental ill health is highly prevalent in esport athletes at a level comparable to other professional sports, such as football, according to the research team’s previous report in 2019.
There latest study aimed to advance the literature by examining the risk factors of mental ill health in esports athletes. Findings offer strong support for the stressors experienced by esports athletes in predicting sleep quality, burnout, social phobia anxiety and mental ill health.
Co-author Dr Phil Birch, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at the University of Chichester, said: “Our study was the first of its kind to provide evidence that stress can predict mental ill health in esport athletes. We hope it informs the development of evidence-based healthcare provision to support mental health in esports and beyond.”
Lead author Dr Matt Smith, a sport and exercise psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Winchester, said: “Our study has important implications for player health in esports, and highlights that interventions could target specific aspects of stress, sleep, burnout and social phobia anxiety to improve the mental health of those who compete in esports.”
Findings provide preliminary evidence to address the specific stressors, including personal concerns and in-game pressure, that are associated with aspects of mental ill health, which have meaningful implications for the prediction of long-term mental health in esports athletes. The authors are hopeful that the findings can support the wider esports ecosystem.
Researcher Atheeshaan Arumuham, an applied practitioner in psychosis studies from King’s College London, said: “Esports athletes use skilled fine motor co-ordination while facing a high cognitive workload that includes attention, information-processing and visuo-spatial skills. The lack of an ‘off season’ means there are unique stressors for esports athletes which are linked to mental ill health.”
The investigation team suggest that improving the mental health of athletes should now be a priority for major esports organisations and competitions worldwide.
Benjamin Sharpe, a lecture in psychology at the University of Chichester, said: “As a prior university-based esports competitor, it’s fantastic to be actively involved in research that addresses the challenges faced by athletes. I’m confident the findings will not only influence the way we think about university-based esports athletes, but also the competitive environment that surrounds all esports.”
Examining the predictors of mental ill health in esports competitors is published in the MDPI journal Healthcare and is available to read online.