World Mental Health Day 2022 – Hobby Positivity
Today is World Mental Heath Day, something that is very important to me in the world outside of Sprues & Brews in my role as a Mental Health First Aider. So in a change of gear from the usual articles, I just wanted to spend a little time talking about Mental Health awareness and how our hobby can help support it.
Every year the World Federation for Mental Health sets a different theme for World Mental Health Day, and the theme for 2022 is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority‘
“So, hang on Matt – What does this have to do with Warhammer?” I hear you ask – Well, the Warhammer hobby is something that I use as a positive outlet to repair Mental Health.
An example that I like to use when talking about Mental Health is the concept of a “Stress Bucket”
Every person has a “bucket” that can handle stress. This bucket is constantly filling with stress – the world in general has many stresses that you cannot avoid in regular day to day life, and these will constantly cause your bucket to fill every day. There are also events such as bereavement, moving house, relationship issues and the pressures of work that can cause your bucket to fill quicker, like a tap being opened above it. And yes, for me this can include things such as trying to get a review or video completed for a deadline, or opening up YouTube to see some negative remarks. Yours may be different though – everyone is affected in different ways.
On that topic, everyone’s stress bucket is also a different size. People have different capacities for stress with some able to contain a lot until they reach breaking point, while others may have a smaller bucket that fills very quickly – just because yours fills at one speed, doesn’t mean that the person next to you is affected the same way by the same events.
When a bucket fills to the point of overflowing is when people start to suffer the effects of negative mental health, you are so overwhelmed by the stress that is filling your bucket that you no longer have the capacity to deal with them and they can manifest as some of the symptoms of ill mental health such as depression, anxiety and in extreme cases psychosis.
So is there a way to stop you bucket from filling? No. Unfortunately due to the nature of the world we live in there is no way of shutting down all sources of stress in our life. However, it is possible to drain your stress bucket by doing things that have a positive impact on draining stress. Now we have to be clear here that there are some negative ways of dealing with stress – drink, drugs and ignoring issues can be an easy and immediate way of draining this stress, however in the long term that flow of stress can return magnified, meaning that these solutions are just kicking the can down the road for another day. A more positive way of draining your stress bucket and giving your self more mental capacity for the stresses that flow through every day is by using positive outlets such as hobbies and things that you enjoy doing.
And this beings us back to the hobby – We are all lucky enough to be involved in a rewarding and multifaceted hobby that is a combination of various elements.
We have the deep and rich lore we can soak up, from the Black Library novels that have been written over the years, to the engrossing background that fills the pages of your Battletomes and Codexes – this can let you escape and explore different worlds and locations and get away from the stresses of real life, if only for a short time.
We also have the creative hobby element – For me, if I ever feel stressed or depressed I know that I can pick up a model kit, start building it and get the paintbrush and paints out and just block out the rest of the world while i get engrossed in the creative side of the hobby. And it doesn’t matter if you are a painting expert or a newcomer, the important thing is just enjoying the process of doing the hobby and the fun in creating something unique from grey plastic sprues and turning it into a painted piece that you have put together yourself.
We are also lucky enough to be in a time where loads of great content creators are putting out brilliant shows, podcasts, streams, videos and articles – so why not head to your favourite creator and watch some of their content, let them share the hobby with you even if you are not able to yourself – All these creators are big fans of the hobby too and would be thrilled to know they have had a positive impact on you.
Another brilliant aspect of the hobby is also the social side – through the hobby I have met some of my best friends, with this site itself being the result of a chance meeting in a Warhammer store! While it is not everyone’s cup of tea, why not try a more casual event such as a Throne of Skulls tournament, or speak to people at your local game store and arrange some games. You never know, someone you work with might even share your interests and hobbies and would love to hang out with you and roll some dice, and maybe they themselves have felt like they can’t share their love for the hobby outwardly. While in the past the table top gaming hobby was very much the domain of nerdy white men, we are in a much better place now with people of all genders, backgrounds and sexualities being heavily involved in the hobby – It’s great to see so many diverse people play the hobby and how we are all brought together by our live of the game! And it’s not just quiet nerdy types anymore, with even people such as Hollywood star Henry Cavill being a massive fan of Warhammer 40k! I know going to an event, or hanging out at a gaming club might be out of some people’s comfort zone and trigger anxieties, but if you can cross that threshold you’ll find it a very rewarding experience and you might make some great new friends too.
Also, please be supportive of other people and look out for them too. Just like you can be affected by what some people may see as small things, those people you look up to or play games with might also be suffering from things you cannot see. And yes, this includes your favourite creators, game writers and Warhammer TV hosts.
Everyone wears a mask, and doubly so in the wild west of the internet. I’m going to be honest here – I’ve had a really rough 12 months suffering badly from depression, anxiety and sleepless nights. Things have been really, really hard – and when filming videos, recording the podcast or writing reviews I’ve put a mask on with that happy and quirky persona I use in order to make the content friendly and relatable. But that’s really hard to do when things are a little dark, and I can guarantee I’m not the only person who does that too. So please be mindful of those around you and reach out to anyone you think is struggling. Just saying hello to someone or making a positive comment on their twitter feed can turn their day around and help drain their stress bucket! I don’t have a magic cure to make stress go away, or wave a magic wand and make the world a more tolerant place – but I know the Warhammer Community is good at it’s core and we all want each other to be happy and share our love of the game.
Finally, it’s fine to not be ok. Everyone struggles, everyone has bad days and It’s ok for that to be the case. You don’t have to advertise it, or even give someone the explicit details about it, but remember there is always someone who will speak to you – that can be friends, families or mental health charities such as Mind. If anyone was struggling and sent a message over to me I would always make time to speak to them, I might not have all the answers or be able to help them, but I’ll always listen, guide them with what advice I have and hopefully give their day a small glimmer of light.
So let’s do something positive and try and help each other, support positive mental health and make our hobby a power for good in a very difficult world.
Anyone in the UK who is struggling with their Mental Health can always reach out to Mind who are a force for good in the awareness and support of Mental Health
Hear Hear. I’ve always found the hobby a great stress reliever- its why I paint so much.
Sorry to hear about your own mh trouble.
Thank you for the post. I find the hobby great for unwinding and changing my state of mind. I wish i held onto it while i was younger looking back on it now i think it would of been a good outlet to have while growing up.