Top video game players are facing the same level of mental health issues as athletes, a new study has found.
Researchers at the universities of Winchester and Chichester said that improving the well-being of gamers should be made a priority as it is for other professional sports including football.
The study looked at 313 gamers, who either play Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant or Rainbow Six siege.
Each Esport athlete was asked about the stressors they encountered from playing the games.
On the whole, they were found to experience similar levels of stress, sleep problems, burnout, social phobia and anxiety as those competing in physical sports.
‘Lack of an off season means there are unique stressors for esports athletes’
However, the causes of stress tended to differ.
Atheshaan Arumuham, one of the authors of the study, said: “Esport athletes face specific demands that vary from those faced by traditional sports athletes.
“For example, the need to use skilled fine motor coordination while facing a high cognitive workload that includes attention, information-processing and visuospatial skills and the lack of an ‘off season’ means there are unique stressors for esport athletes which are linked to mental ill-health.”
Dr Matt Smith, who is the lead author of the report, added there is a lack of research examining mental health in esports athletes.
“By identifying the risk factors which underpin mental ill health for this group of athletes we hope healthcare practitioners can deliver evidence-based health care provision for esports athletes,” he said.
“From implementing interventions to improve quality of sleep to providing esports athletes with strategies to deal with the demands of their sport to avoid burnout, there are practical steps that can be taken to address the factors which we know can predict mental ill health.”
The study is published in the MDPI journal Healthcare.