MENTAL HEALTH STARTER GUIDE

The past year amidst a global pandemic has been trying for all of us in so many ways, particularly mentally. If you are affected by the symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, it’s important to remember that you are not alone:

  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental health condition each year. 

  • 19% of U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder.

  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health condition each year, but only half get treatment.

At CLG, we believe that good mental health is a key part to success in competitions, content creation, and life in general. The questions in this guide were created from several internal conversations and questions between our staff, players, and streamers and in collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). We hope this guide helps those who like us who are focused on being the best version of themselves inside and outside the competitive arena of games that we play, stream, and enjoy. This starter guide is by no means a set of rules or a complete guide, at the end of the day it’s about doing what works best for you!

For more information, check out our Engine video series which features short training on both mental & physical topics.


 

STREAMING AND STRESS

The streaming culture at the moment is very punishing: if I take a day off, I “lose” out on sub counts, viewer counts, etc. How do you keep yourself healthy in this kind of environment?

 

Everyone needs to have off days, no matter what their profession is. It’s important to make sure to create a schedule so that you can stream not only to maximize engagement, but so that you can stream full-time for years to come. Burning out will only hurt you in the long run.

Here are a few ways to tackle burnout:

  • Set a realistic stream schedule that gives you time to take care of your basic needs. This includes:

    • Physiological needs such as rest, food, and water.

    • Interpersonal needs such as catching up with friends and family.

  • Make sure that your off days include time for active recovery. Visual stimulation

    • Quality 7-8 hours of sleep without any screen time.

    • Moderate exercise

    • Meditation

As a competitive person, I have very high standards for myself and losses can be extremely disappointing. What are some techniques/strategies to deal with this?

 

It’s great to be competitive and to set out to be a high achiever. But you need to make sure that you take the correct steps to put you on a path of success. Set expectations for yourself that actually work and create the right amount of pressure. Goals should motivate you and feel good pursuing them. If a goal you set creates anxiety, then it’s counterproductive and not a goal worth having.

A goal:

  • Should feel achievable and motivates you to work towards it.

  • Should not create a level of anxiety and stress that causes you to feel demotivated.

  • Once achieved can always be replaced by a new goal.

For example saying I want to get Diamond in six months when you are currently Silver can cause anxiety because the goal seems so far off, even if it may or may not be achievable. A better goal would be to get Gold in two months, and eventually work towards Diamond.

There are a lot of ups and downs as a content creator, especially when looking at your stats and progress. Some days you will go backwards, others you will randomly be the top of the category, etc. What can I do to better manage what feels like a lack of progression?

 

Take a step back and try to keep the bigger picture in mind. In the short term, focus on the health of your community and what you can control – try taking a qualitative approach instead of a quantitative one. Appreciate what’s working within the community you’re fostering on your stream.

Try the ABC technique from dialectical behavior therapy (DBT):

  • Accumulate positive emotions: focus on where you are growing and what’s going well.

  • Build mastery of your craft: add a small thing to your content, learn a new skill, etc.

  • Cope Ahead: Know that there will be times where not everything is going well - think about how you might react and what dealing with it well would look like.

 
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RESOURCES + ADVOCACY

What can I do when a member of my community reaches out to let me know they are not doing well?

 

As a streamer/content creator it’s important to be there for your community, however it’s also important to set your boundaries and make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well. Below are some sample responses to someone experiencing or expressing a mental health struggle. 

To someone in need of general mental health information

  • I am happy to be a NAMI Ambassador/a NAMI supporter. They have the wisdom of the lived experience, they understand, and they are there to help. Visit www.nami.org for information or contact the NAMI HelpLine for the same or for information on local services and support in your community. 

  • To someone in need of support and encouragement

    • I am glad you reached out. I am sorry to learn that you are going through a difficult time as I know that some days can be more difficult with others. Fortunately, you do not have to go through this alone. NAMI is there to help encourage you, to offer help and hope. Visit www.nami.org and explore the site for information or contact the NAMI HelpLine for the same or for information on local services and supports in your community. 800-950-6264.

  • To someone in urgent need or crisis

    • I am glad you reached out. I am sorry to learn about this very difficult situation/moment for you. Please know that you are not alone—there is help. If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text NAMI to 741741. I hope this information leads to comfort and help for you.

What are some ways I can be a more proactive mental health advocate for my community?

 

If you want to be an advocate for others who may be struggling, it’s important to realize that making sure you take care of yourself first is an appropriate step to begin that journey.  Doing so in a way that’s authentic to you and helpful to your community could include:

As you look to build, establish, or maintain your own community here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Set community guidelines and ground rules that encourage conversation but set strict boundaries against bullying, hate speech, etc.

  • Share your own story - how you’re feeling and how you’re coping to encourage the conversation and help others who may be experiencing the same thing know that they are not alone.

  • Take time to ask people how they’re doing - either privately or consider having a discord channel for these sort of checkins - you never know when someone might be struggling.


Toxicity in Gaming

At the moment, it is not always possible to escape toxicity in multiplayer games. As a streamer/content creator, what are some ways to deal with toxicity or frustration while gaming? What should I do when I get harassed or attacked while gaming?

 

COPE

S.T.O.P. Stop, take a step back (breathe), observe (how is this affecting you) and then proceed mindfully.

Empathize When it comes to dealing with other players, it's worth looking at someone whose behavior is toxic and thinking they might be going through things as well. They might be seeking attention as a troll or trying to release stress/anxiety by attacking others (which shouldn't be tolerated but it may not be worth responding to).

Give yourself space and grace: It is ok to not be ok. Sometimes you don’t have the mental resilience to be subjected to toxicity and that means maybe you need to take a step back and do something else.

DO

If the behavior is repetitive or disruptive or personal, mute them, block them (if needed) because usually responding equally just incites more toxicity or harassment. Use the in-game tools to deal with them instead of trying to out yell them or becoming toxic yourself.

If you feel like you can handle it, approach the situation with curiosity and ask questions. Sometimes, engaging with someone in a neutral conversation can let you know of that person’s intentions and help you gauge if they are worth it or not. If it doesn’t feel right, go back to the previous step and start ignoring the behavior.

When I find myself frustrated by a situation, what are some ways I can avoid becoming toxic myself? 

 
  • Toxicity/frustration is tough especially from a streamer perspective because everything you do and react to is live. Getting frustrated is natural, however being toxic is unhealthy. It’s important to think about your reaction beforehand, and if needed step away for a water or restroom break to collect your thoughts. This may take some practice, but being able to step away, recenter, and calmly react (or quickly calm down after frustration) and deal with negative emotions in a healthy way is really necessary.

  • Recognizing your triggers and becoming familiar with the way that frustration manifests within you emotionally is important. For example, when you lose a round you may be feeling angry but the true emotion may be frustration or disappointment.