Mental Health for Gamers by Gamers | Carolyn Cui
For parents, the easy first reaction upon discovering a gaming addiction in their children is to go for the nuclear option: take their electronics away and ground them. But most people won’t have their parents hovering over them all the time, 24/7; what will happen when they’re alone, and what happens when other mental health problems arise?
Seeing a therapist or psychiatrist isn’t always the most viable option. College is when a lot of people find themselves alone for the first time and is a great opportunity to start cracking down on bad habits. However, therapy can cost a ridiculous amount, even with insurance. Tuition and living expenses are already seemingly insurmountable challenges for some; stacking therapy on top of that is like adding insult to injury.
Looking online for solutions can only do so much, and a lot of websites say the same thing, especially in regards to video game addiction: set timers, just stop playing, live in the moment, so on and so forth.
Enter Dr. K. Alok Kanojia, better known as Dr. K. on his YouTube and Twitch channels, is a psychiatrist based in Boston, Massachusetts and runs the channel “HealthyGamerGG” on YouTube and “HealthyGamer_GG” on Twitch. During his streams, he talks about gaming and mental health with audience members and other YouTubers.
Kanojia, having struggled with gaming addiction himself during his time at the University of Texas at Austin, moved to India when he was 21 to become a monk and study alternative therapies. He managed to control his addiction and graduated with a Bachelor in Science degree in biology in 2007, after which he began a placement at Tufts University in 2010. He received a medical degree in 2014, then started a residency at Harvard Medical School, specifically at their MGH/McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Program.
After he graduated, he found out that he wasn’t the only one who struggled with video game addiction during his college years. In fact, many of his friends were also wrangling their own addiction; thus, he began helping his friends work through their problems, but there wasn’t enough time to help everyone. Kanojia believed that most therapists weren’t approaching gaming addiction correctly, and in hopes of helping more people overcome their gaming addiction, Kanojia and his wife decided to start a company, Healthy Gamer.
He began by hosting group therapy sessions centred around gaming and mental health topics and discovered these were helpful for the participants involved. Kanojia moved to Twitch, and started to host live sessions with his audience and popular streamers like Michael Reeves, Pokimane, and Reckful.
On YouTube, where his streams can also be found, you can find videos covering a broad range of topics, from dealing with “potential” to imposter syndrome to romantic relationships. There’s something for everyone, even if you’re not a gamer. As one commenter put it, Dr. K. is like “every Indian parent’s dream of a ‘’good boy.’”
Dr. K offers a rare, outstretched hand into what may sometimes feel like a spiralling, bottomless pit. He knows what it’s like to be down there and through his determination, inspires others who are currently dealing with addiction. While their gaming addiction might feel like the end of the world, it’s never too late to climb out and reinvent yourself.