Queensland academic, Dr Lee Kannis-Dymand said the recently released mobile app Pokemon Go may work as a positive catalyst for people experiencing anxiety and depression.
Released in July of this year, Pokemon Go has already reached 100 million downloads and received wide praise from users after they felt improvements in mental and physical health.
Developed by Niantic, Pokemon Go is a free location-based mobile application that encourages users to move to certain locations to catch, battle and trade Pokemon.
A clinical psychologist and teacher at University of the Sunshine Coast, Dr Kannis-Dymand believes augmented reality games like Pokemon Go may improve mental health as it motivates players to exercise and get outside.
“Anything that gets people social and keeps them from being isolated at home is particularly beneficial to mental health”, Dr Kannis-Dymand said.
“The fact that Pokemon Go keeps people physically active is highly beneficial, as we know exercise is good for depression and anxiety.”
“Games like Pokemon Go may also help people experiencing social anxiety as it gives them something to focus on while they’re in public.”
Pokemon Go player, Aaron Jackson said he has noticed large improvements to his mental health since he began using the application.
“Suffering from social anxiety can be hard, as sometimes I don’t feel comfortable leaving the house in fear of talking to people I don’t know,” Mr Jackson said.
“But Pokemon Go has allowed me to be social in a way that’s rewarding and fun, which has made social interaction a lot easier.”
Jeremy Di Re is an organiser of the Brisbane Pokemon Go Social Club and believes the game helps to distract smart phone users from online negativity.
“Beyond the obvious health benefits of increased exercise, the game is a really welcome distraction to the serious nature of modern life,” he said.
“Usually if someone was stuck in a hospital waiting room or a bus stop, they would be sitting reading the news about all the horrible things happening in the world. Now they are catching Pokemon. That has to have a positive effect.”
The Brisbane Pokemon Go Social Club’s second bar crawl will be held in Fortitude Valley on August 27.