Orc Therapy? Swedish non-profit wants to combat young people’s declining mental health through World of Warcraft.

On the home turf of the gaming world, the Swedish non-profit organization Unga Lukas will begin to offer anonymous emotional support, via avatars in the form of Orcs inside the popular online game World of Warcraft.

More and more young swedes are diagnosed with, and medicated for, mental health issues. The Swedish non-profit organization Unga Lukas, developed with the support of the Swedish Public Health Agency, aims to combat this through preventive and existential support online. To be present where young adults spend most of their time, they are now entering the popular online game World of Warcraft. Offering anonymous conversational support in the shape of so-called Orcs.

– Young people need to talk about life, with someone who truly listens. We need to meet young people where they are and make it easier to get emotional support when they feel down. We see in our chat operations that anonymity means that they dare to open up, says Åsa Maj Jonzon, Operations Manager at Unga Lukas.

Issues among young adults can be hard to detect, partly because the limited insight adults often have into young people’s life online. At the same time, people who play computer games on a daily basis have been shown to feel worse than those who play less often. Gamers, with its high population of young men, can also be seen to be at increased risk when it comes to suicide.

– Gaming can be an escape if you feel mentally ill or alone, and therefore it becomes extra important to show that we’re here if you want to talk. We want to show that it is possible to put difficult feelings into words and open the door to seek further support. Just the fact that someone is really listening can contribute to an increased sense of hope in their own ability and future, Åsa continues.

On the website for the initiative orctherapy.ungalukas.se you can read about the different Orcs; Edzurg, Olurg and Gakor’s characters and what steps to take to seek them out in the game. Behind each Orc there are trained volunteers – all of them with gaming experience. By using the game as a meeting place, Unga Lukas hope more young gamers will dare to seek support.

Source: BBDO Nordics

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