Mental Health: An Opportunity For the Esports Industry to Build a Better World

17 Sport
3 min readOct 14, 2020

This is not the niche topic it may first appear. Marathon gaming sessions can lead to health issues, and even death, whilst sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and immense pressure on players can negatively affect performance and lead to anxiety, depression and addiction — as our experienced panellists will attest to. Not only impacting the everyday life of pro gamers, a holistic approach to good mental health improves performance and increases team value, whilst influencing the lives of millions of fans around the world.

An absolute must-watch for anyone who cares about the future of Esports. Watch the full session and read our key takeaways below.

Key Takeaways | A Call to Esports Leadership

With studies starting to show that being purpose-driven can lead to better performance and fulfilment, Paget laid down the gauntlet: “Is the Esports ecosystem ready to embrace purpose as a strategic driver?”

For Gorbenko, things have started to improve with a “lot of top tier organisations starting to invest in this. They see the value of it…and they see the results.” All the panel however agreed that more needs to be done. Johnson called for effective leadership: “It is vital to have the right culture at the top…everything else follows […] Organisations must think of their players as their biggest ROI. It is that simple. Take care of them and they will take care of you.”

The Basics

Why is all this important? Put simply, emotional resilience and mental fitness will increase the performance of the player and their longevity in the sport, as well as improving their general wellbeing. Its importance goes beyond competition. Papillon, aka Shox, explained: “As an influencer, having strong mental health feeds into how you express yourself which can have a major impact on young people around the world. You also need strong mental health to handle the trash talk and negative comments that can be thrown at you online.”

Competition does not exist in a vacuum. As Gorbenko summed it up: “Emotions bleed into the game… there is no way of compartmentalising the different parts of your life. Goal is to not be 100% all the time… but to get the most out of yourself regardless of what else is going on.”

The Value of Mental Coaching

Having a comprehensive support system in place with psychologists, nutritionists and mental coaches, helps players bring the best out of themselves — and to bounce back after less successful days. For Shox, it was mental coaching that helped him “understand the power of sleep and eating well on…performance…and the extent to which these…make all the difference in competition.” Gorbenko agreed that coaching and support is vital as “sleep is unbelievably important and yet we have built this unhealthy culture where players are bragging about how little sleep they’ve gotten.”

For Johnson, the role of the mental coach is to get “the players interested in the why of cognitive performance: ‘Your brain is your moneymaker’…and by the way, I’m going to teach you to eat, move and be healthy…these are what help you be better both in game and out of game.”

The Future

The Esports industry has a huge and wonderful opportunity to use business to build a better world. For us, it is a no-brainer, but what do you think? What mental health support are you integrating into your Esports team management?

17 Sport is the world’s first truly integrated sports impact company on a mission to build a positive future for the world through sport. We provide purpose-led advisory, commercial and management solutions for brands, sports properties, athletes and non-profits wanting to manage their investments in sport in a more purposeful way.

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