Pixie: The mental health benefits of playing Pokémon Go!

Pixie is one of Sheffield Flourish's newest Creative Content Producers. How can the latest smartphone craze help improve mental wellbeing? Given the amount of Pokémon Pixie has caught she's a definite expert.

So, Niantic have teamed up with Nintendo, and created a game to allow people to play Pokémon whilst out and about, and have accidentally created a tool to help people with mental health issues.

How have they done this?  Well, if you don’t already know, Pokémon Go is a mobile phone app which allows you to use GPS and AR to walk around the map and catch the Pokémon you encounter.  These locations are based in the real world at landmarks, which means you have to physically travel to the location to catch them.

For me, and many other people, it has been a breakthrough in terms of getting out of the house and doing exercise.  Three days into playing the game and I’d already walked over 30km!  This game has made me actually want to go outside and walk places, something which was a daunting prospect to me a few months before.  I’ve often been out on a walk and met other people playing Pokémon too, which has been fantastic for my anxieties!  Exercise has been proven to help with depression too and I felt a lot happier just getting outside for a bit. Many players have reported losing weight by walking too.

We started an online Pokémon group three years ago for a couple of our friends to talk about Pokémon together; I think we had about 6 people in the group.  Since then it’s grown to over 50 members, and has been very successful since Pokémon Go came out.  A lot of people are posting updates on where they’ve been and what they’ve caught, and people are sharing tips and advice with others on the page; it’s really helped create a community.

Though the game is having a positive effect, experts have stated that it is not a substitute for, but rather an aid to, professional help.  It is better to consider this game as a way to begin leading a more healthy and active lifestyle, and improving your mental health in the process.

The photos below are of my own adventures whilst playing Pokémon!

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