Mental Health Mobile Games Project
Indian Country experiences some of the most severe behavioral health disparities in the US. A significant component of these disparities is the rurality associated with much of Indian Country. In general, rural areas lack trained behavioral health professionals, locally-placed behavioral health clinics, community-based preventative measures, perceived anonymity associated with care, and perceived need for behavioral health care — all in addition to having strong stigmas around behavioral health care. The Mental Health Mobile Games Project is a social and emotional learning intervention delivered over a networked mobile game that uses geosocial gaming mechanisms enhanced with augmented reality technology.
Focusing on the Navajo community, we intend to raise mental health awareness and resilience. We take a community-based participatory research approach to include NA psychologists, community health workers, and educators as co-designers of the intervention activities and gaming mechanisms. Critical questions involve the operation of the application across low-infrastructure landscapes as well as the scalability of design practices to be inclusive of the many diverse NA cultural communities in Indian Country. The primary goal of our project is to create a mobile game that promotes mental awareness, teaches users how to cope cognitively and emotionally with day-to-day challenges, teaches users how to connect with others and learn how to be more assertive in their social interactions, and helps users connect with underlying values and cultivate mindfulness, gratitude, and self-compassion. The game should be designed for teenagers, explicitly targeting middle and high school students of the Hopi Tribe. We intend to finish a prototype which includes at least one aspect of the flowchart by the end of the semester.