May 13, 2020

Mental health efforts to reach the gaming community

Kaiser Permanente’s initiative with Cloud9 will help gamers and fans address mental health and wellness amid the COVID-19 pandemic and worsening youth mental health.

The Presence of Mind initiative is intended to engage youth and young adults in mental health conversations in the places where they are spending their time.

Contact: Vincent Staupe

OAKLAND, Calif., — As part of a long-standing commitment to improve the mental health and wellness of people across the United States, Kaiser Permanente is partnering with American professional esports organization Cloud9 to launch Presence of Mind, a first-of-its-kind initiative focused on engaging the esports and gaming community. The goal of the initiative is to increase mental health awareness, reduce stigma, and encourage teens and young adults to prioritize their well-being.

Presence of Mind is one of Kaiser Permanente’s many efforts to help build a stronger mental and emotional foundation across the nation. This initiative with Cloud9 pairs Kaiser Permanente mental health experts and clinicians with athletes, coaches, and staff to engage youth and young adults in mental health conversations in the places where they are spending their time. Key components of the initiative will include mental health training for Cloud9 players and staff, a new content series on the gaming platform Twitch, and a community moderator training and engagement program. The first phase will kick off in May 2020 with Cloud9’s League of Legends team, currently ranked number one in North America and playing an esport that draws the largest viewing audience in the world.

“Our goal is that Presence of Mind will contribute to a public health movement within esports by engaging teens, young adults, and other gamers in mental health conversations,” said Don Mordecai, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s national leader for mental health and wellness. “The need is even more critical in this period of stress and physical isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the esports community, with Cloud9 leading the way, can support each other’s mental health while also supporting their own well-being and resilience now and long into the future.”

The announcement comes amid growing concern about youth mental health. On average, 1 in 6 U.S. youth experience a mental health disorder each year, with 50% of all lifetime mental illness beginning by age 14, and 75% by age 24. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic is leading more people to speak openly about mental health. According to research from The Public Good Projects, there has been a significant increase — nearly 49% — in mental health conversations over social media since January 2020. Concurrently, gaming and esports continue to grow among youth and young adults as a way to stay socially connected while physically isolated, especially during the pandemic. Since stay-at-home restrictions were imposed, the World Health Organization now recognizes the role that the gaming industry can play to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by promoting health guidelines such as physical distancing.   

“Partnering with Kaiser Permanente allows us to shine a spotlight on the importance of mental health and wellness in our community, and to set an example for everyone in our industry,” said Jack Etienne, founder and CEO, Cloud9. “Gaming and esports is a refuge for so many during this pandemic, and we want our fans and our players at their healthiest, both mentally and physically.”

Clinician-led mental health and wellness training

Kaiser Permanente mental health and wellness experts will conduct a series of training sessions with Cloud9’s professional players and staff to help create positive advocates and supporters of mental health and wellness. Through this training, Kaiser Permanente will provide the tools to drive open, nonjudgmental, and honest conversations about mental health within the gaming community.

Cloud9 content series

The Presence of Mind initiative will be featured prominently in a new content series Cloud9 is launching for Twitch. The series will showcase the real life behind gaming, esports, and elite athletes, with a focus on total health. Esports influencers and Kaiser Permanente experts will connect on different episodes to talk about gaming and mental health, including topics such as coping during the COVID-19 pandemic and combating burnout.

Advisory council and ongoing research

An advisory council made up of Kaiser Permanente clinicians will provide training to Cloud9 and offer guidance and expertise on the development of mental health activations throughout the initiative. In addition, Kaiser Permanente, Cloud9, and PGP will conduct ongoing research to track the initiative’s impact on reducing mental health stigma and measure behavior change within the gaming community.

The Presence of Mind initiative with Cloud9 is Kaiser Permanente’s latest effort focused on addressing the mental health and wellness needs of its members, communities, and the public. Since 2016, Kaiser Permanente’s Find Your Words campaign has helped to tackle the stigma that prevents many from talking about mental health and wellness. And last year, Kaiser Permanente launched Resilience in School Environments, or RISE, a free program that provides teachers with the skills and resources they need to support student mental health and to better tend to their own emotional needs. Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s expansive mental health and wellness initiatives.

About Cloud9

Founded in 2013, Cloud9 has grown to become one of the most recognizable esports organizations in the world. With championships industry-wide, unmatched viewership hours, and extensive benefits packages for players and staff, Cloud9 prides itself on being the best in all categories.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.