Players of the popular football management game located in and around Leeds are currently seeing pitch-side promotions for MindMate, an NHS mental health website for teens
Gaming can get a pretty bad rep when it comes to wellness and mental health for children and teens. When someone says in-game advertising, the first things that spring to mind are big-brands like Nike, fast-food sponsors McDonalds, and energy drink companies like Monster. NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are looking to break this trend with their decision to target players in-game.
If you play Football Manager 2018 and are currently located in Leeds, you may start seeing an eight second advert promoting MindMates over the next month. Part of a larger six-month campaign to promote the mental health website to young people, MindMate helps teens understand their feelings, as well as find advice and support.
Clicking on the short in-game advert takes players through to the NHS Leeds MindMate website. NHS Leeds CCG hopes that their new campaign will tape into the huge audience already playing Football Manager 2018, helping connect young people to vital support and information surrounding mental health.
The first advert of its kind from the NHS, MindMates looks to engage young people on their home turf, rather than sticking to traditional means of advertising. This isn’t Football Manager 2018’s first foray into raising awareness for health foundations. In November 2017, the Movember foundation partnered with the advertising platform to feature men's health issue adverts in the popular game.
Hopefully this bold move, if successful, will be taken into consideration by other NHS CCGs across the country.
Football Manager isn’t the only platform that seeks to use gaming to improve users mental health. In March 2017, new research from leading universities found that a game developed to help schizophrenia patients who did not respond well to medication could help them deal with stress and apply mental strategies in-game.
The gaming industry itself has become more aware of links between their players, depression, and using games as a temporary coping mechanism. The inclusion of adverts promoting mental health information and support could signal a positive move towards change for both sides of the debate.