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Huuuge Games

Huuuge shines a light on mental health awareness

October 10th marked the celebration of World Mental Health Day, an annual event held to raise awareness about depression, mental health, and the importance of mental well-being. Mental health has been a hot topic for a while but having a specific day dedicated to the issue allows the world to stop, take stock, and focus on the important matter of how to improve the conditions safeguarding our psychological health.

At Huuuge we took the opportunity to not only celebrate World Mental Health Day but also to create a month’s worth of Mental Health inspired activities starting on 10th October and running into November. The Huuuge Mental Health Month activities were tailored to help our team become more aware of the issue and better equipped to deal with the stresses of modern life. As this month of activity comes towards its end we wanted to take this opportunity to explore the issues of mental health within our industry and discuss some of the initiatives our teams have taken part in over the past few weeks.

The scale of the problem

The World Health Organization in their recent data states that nearly one billion people worldwide suffer from some form of mental disorder. The prevalence of these disorders rises with key worldwide factors like economic downturns and widespread humanitarian emergencies. The last couple of particularly turbulent years had a devastating detrimental effect — COVID-19 in particular created an unprecedented global crisis in mental health. According to the annual World mental health report issued by WHO, rates of already-common conditions such as depression and anxiety went up by more than 25% in the first year of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, as the uncertainties over the future are growing amid the COVID-induced economic crisis, employed men and women are vulnerable to depressive and anxiety symptoms. WHO estimates that 15% of working-age adults are estimated to have a mental disorder. To put it on a different scale, an estimated 12 billion workdays are lost annually due to psychological disorders, costing the global economy nearly $1 trillion.

Mental health problems aren’t exclusive to the older generations either — in the report “the Mental Health and Young People Survey” the National Health Service in England noted that in 2020, one in six (16.0%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017. The increase was evident in both boys and girls.

Knowing all this data, we understand why it is important to bring attention to our mental health, but we also know these issues can’t be solved in one day. There are no short-term, easy fixes — our actions need to be recurrent and long-lasting. One day or even one month is not enough.

The importance of mental health awareness in gamedev

Mental health is essential for good health and quality of life. It plays a role in how well individuals, families, communities, and social function. Positive mental health has been shown to have advantages in both personal and work settings. People who report good mental health do better in their job, are more adaptable and resilient to stress and are more prone to engage and collaborate with others for a common goal.

Because we spend a large proportion of our lives working, a safe and healthy working environment is fundamental. Meaningful work is protective of mental health by contributing to a person’s sense of accomplishment, confidence, and earnings. It also contributes to recovery and inclusion for people living with psychosocial disabilities. However, harmful or poor working conditions, hazardous work environments and work organization, poor working relationships, or unemployment can significantly contribute to worsening mental health or exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Said factors can lead to grave consequences, ranging from low cognitive performance (decreased focus, memory issues), to low motivation and work withdrawal, to finally burnout which can last even after quitting a job.

The Gamedev industry is full of brilliant, creative, and intelligent people. However, as much as innovative and rewarding as our work is, it can also be a demanding career. Being able to deliver high-level performance under time pressure, the ability to handle work overload, and the need to be flexible and adjustable to ever-changing conditions are in demand in the industry. Gamedev is a career that requires high mental resistance.

In short, developers need their brains in good shape to do the work that they do, and when things aren’t going well, we can see it in their codes and — since we are working collaboratively — it can impact others and their work as well. Furthermore, when you are a programmer, there can be pressure to continuously develop yourself by upgrading your skills, which sometimes can put unrealistic expectations on you and lead to anxiety.

What does Huuuge do to ensure our employee’s wellbeing

We believe that even though our understanding of mental health has grown, there is still a lot to be done. That is one of the reasons why we launched the Huuuge Mental Health Month, which lasts 4 weeks from the 10th of October to the 9th of November. We have invited a licensed Mental Toughness consultant Małgorzata Henke to hold a series of webinars for our employees. These sessions were intended to teach how to build personal resilience and mental toughness by cultivating a positive attitude, taking care of one’s energy, and practicing healthy habits. Because many of our colleagues work remotely, we ensured everyone could join by having online meetings which were also recorded for the benefit of those who could not attend in person or wanted to watch them back afterward. As a result, about 40% of our employees attended the first webinar on how to develop resistance to stress and pressure, whereas approximately 20% of them took part in the second one dedicated to maintaining energy levels at and after work.

Staying true to WHO’s recommendations, we also made sure our managers and supervisors are properly educated and well-equipped with the knowledge and resources to design a work environment that favors open communication, health, and well-being. We conducted special leadership-oriented training, enabling them to not only build their own mental resistance but also be able to spot warning symptoms among their staff and react accordingly.

We understand not only the internal dynamics of the workplace can contribute to how our employees feel, but also the external factors we sometimes are unable to control. However, what we can do is provide the support, tools, and information necessary to help our team cope with the stress and anxiety during these uncertain times. Hence why we are also offering psychological help to any team member who needed it in the form of fully confidential, personal meetings with psychologists after the war in Ukraine broke out.

With the Huuuge Mental Health Month initiative coming to the end, we are starting to take stock on what we have learned, what can be improved and what we can utilize everyday to help our important mission to empower our employees.

Huuuge Team

References

Huppert, F. A. (2009). Psychological well‐being: Evidence regarding its causes and consequences. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐being, 1(2), 137–164.

Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803.

World Health Organization. (2022, June 16). World Mental Health Report: Transforming mental health for all. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240049338

NHS. (2020, October 22). NHS choices. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/mental-health-of-children-and-young-people-in-england/2020-wave-1-follow-up

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Huuuge Games

Huuuge Games

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Huuuge is a publicly listed, global game developer & publisher on a mission to empower billions of people to play together.