A Harvard Trained Doctor is Live Streaming with Famous Gamers About Mental Health
Recently in my college endeavors I found a profound interest in neuroscience and mental health. I have been taking classes taught by clinical & social psychologists.
While taking these demanding classes from home, I’ve also spent a lot of hours watching Twitch.tv. A Platform where live streamers play videogames or create content, and talk to viewers through chat. I use Twitch either for background noise or entertainment, and I also recognize it as a platform for creating a sense of community.
This is where I just recently ran across a channel live streaming for a couple months, associated with www.healthygamer.gg. I was fascinated after watching a short clip of famous Twitch streamer, Pokimane, crying on the Healthy Gamer’s stream while talking to a doctor.
It peaked my fascination, and it turned into me listening to hours on end of Youtube videos with famous Twitch personalities. All hosted by another personality “Dr.K,” a psychiatrist talking with streamers and teaching them meditation techniques. Watching this professionals doctor talk about and understand mental health was very entertaining. He, like many other psychiatrists are very talented with communication, and can ask questions to the point where the patient better recognize and better understands themselves and their own problems.
This psychiatrist dives into a lot of fascinating conversation and I think a lot of people can relate to what is said and recognized on streams. Whether that is depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other common occurrences. There’s definitely something interesting about a world-class health professional talking to streamers about games, drugs, or even emotions, watching them cry and breakdown on stream about their past or present being. Along with entertainment it helps make gaming communities more aware of mental health and hopefully more likely to share.
Who and why?
Healthy Gamer in its shortest description is, “a company dedicated to help gamers with their mental health,” whose main streaming personality is addiction psychiatrist Dr. Alok Kanojia.
Dr. Alok Kanojia was a gamer who almost failed out of college, and spent Summers in india learning meditation and other techniques, yet went on to do his psychiatry residency through Harvard Medical School. Working at some of the world’s leading medical institutions: Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. The area where he practices out of: Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Alok Kanojia is ethnically Indian. He combines eastern meditative techniques, neurochemistry research and addiction interventions in his studies.
Is this Legal?
This is a concern Dr. K has brought up himself. Although he claims not to give medical advice or diagnoses. He does get in to deep emotional conversation with people in public, and has them draw conclusions about themselves which can be tearful. He is not afraid to use his expertise to share his opinions on ideas, and this becomes a grey area. Say if something happens to the person he had been talking to, is he liable? I think there's a possibility that if it came down to a legal battle it could sway either way.
Some of his colleagues also advised him against pursuing his practice in livestreams and online business.
He is also trying to recruit people who are not medical professionals to become “coaches,” for gamers who need help. Which in my mind does not sound like a safe business venture due to liability.
The companies disclaimer always reads on the companies media content such as website, videos, or live streams description, “[Healthy Gamer] does not provide medical services or professional counseling, and it is not a substitute for professional medical care. Our Recovery Coaches are peer supporters, not professionally trained experts, and they cannot provide medical advice.”
Empirical Evidence & Eastern Philosophy
If there's one thing I’ve learned from non-white psychiatrists or psychologists who have taught me, or I’ve listened to; It is that we should be aware of Western ideologies, norms, language, cultural biases, and practices(and vise versa for the East).
I have always been someone who thinks the Western Diet is potentially harmful. I also believe that diagnoses in the US favor prescribing pills too much. On top of that I think US culture along with technology use manifests depression and anxiety.
I enjoy Dr.K’s take on using both empirical evidence and reference to eastern philosophy. I found his references to Hindi words, monks, meditation, yoga, and Buddha to be a fresh perspective to many stone cold faced psychiatrists who never cared to study any other culture, and will keep trying to explain to their patients solely medical studies and prescribe pills (Which don’t get me wrong — works for many many people).
Should We Be Skeptical?
Once someone online goes from producing content to doing training for coaches and selling merchandise, I automatically threw up a red flag. I wanted to voice my opinion on this — but I didn’t want to make assumptions as I believe this business which is selling a “community” is still too early on in the process for me to try and make claims. So in a more general note: Be wary.
Donations to a streamer, I understand. Merchandise for mental health?
Not sure about that.
I like Dr. K as a personality, and I like the mission, but let's be careful. At the end of the day this is a business. He’s live streaming ‘sessions’ with consent which are usually in person and private. While he is taking in money from donations and merchandise. It’s ok to be skeptical. I’m interested to see the continued work and growth of Healthy Gamer.
Will this conversation about mental health become a norm?
Is this a step closer to psychologists doing more research, and psychiatrist better understanding gamers and technology?
Only time will tell.
Video Game Addiction Treatment | Dr. Alok Kanojia | Healthy Gamer
I couldn't handle life's challenges because it was too problematic. Presented with a real-world problem, I would only…
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor expert. These are personal opinions. I neither support nor denounce Dr. K and Healthy Gamer’s practices and business.