Back to Top

Deadline for Manuscript Submission:
December 10, 2021


Call for Papers

Games for Mental Health


Dr Nilufar Baghaei, Director of Games and Extended Reality Lab, Massey University, New Zealand 
A/Prof Hai-Ning Liang, Department of Computing, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China
Dr John Naslund, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, USA
Prof Richard Porter, Department of Psychological Medicine, Otago University, New Zealand

Mental health conditions pose a major challenge to healthcare providers and society at large. The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2030, mental health conditions will be the leading disease burden globally. Mental health services are struggling to meet the needs of users and arguably fail to reach large proportions of those in need. Early intervention, support, and education can have significant positive impact on a person’s prognosis.

Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in technologies for educating and supporting mental health and for mental health wellness. Advances in technology have created opportunities for collaboration between game and health researchers to design and develop tools to train and support healthcare providers, practice skills outside of/in adjunct to therapy, connect individuals with healthcare providers, provide access to affordable self-assessment, and to provide treatment.

The use of games provides a greater degree of anonymity than what has been possible in the (public) health system thus far and this is often considered an advantage in reaching individuals who might not otherwise seek help due to fear of being stigmatized. Games (including AI-enabled games and extended reality games) can potentially create new effective care models in the wider context of prevention and support for individuals affected by mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, addictive behaviours, and substance abuse disorders. 

Following the successful workshop held at ISMAR 2019 and a recent Special topic at Frontiers in VR, the goal of this Games for Health special issue is to provide an opportunity for game and health researchers to submit their original ideas and contribution on the design, development, evaluation, and the dissemination and implementation of new mental health games, targeted for individuals of all ages, aiding:

1.    general wellness
2.    access to care
3.    education and training
4.    assessment
5.    treatment and diagnosis
6.    support to individuals and families, and 
7.    intervention and skill-practice

We are interested in study protocols, review papers and theoretically, empirically, and/or methodologically oriented contributions focused on supporting mental health delivered through game-based technologies (including technologies using virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence), with/without support of additional technologies. In addition to potential benefits, we would also like to receive contributions regarding potential barriers to using such technologies for addressing mental health conditions.

Keywords: mental health, mhealth, vhealth, games, VR, AR, MR, XR, artificial intelligence, social media, internet of things

Nilufar Baghaei (PhD University of Canterbury, NZ)

  • Affiliation: Senior Lecturer & Director of Games and Extended Reality Lab, Massey University, New Zealand
  • Research interest: Game-based Learning, Mixed and Augmented Reality, Game-based Learning, Artificial Intelligence in Education, Persuasive Technolog
  • Short bio: Nilufar Baghaei is the Director of Games and Extended Reality Lab at Massey University. He has been an active researcher in the area of GBL, AIED and Human Computer Interaction for the past 14+ years and has an extensive list of publications in international journals and conferences. Her Google Scholar profile can be accessed here.

Hai-Ning Liang (PhD Western University, Canada)

  • Affiliation: Senior Associate Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China
  • Research interest: HCI, Virtual/Augmented Reality, Gaming Technologies, Information Visualization
  • Short bio: Hai-Ning Liang is Head of Department and the Deputy Director of the Suzhou Key Lab for Virtual Reality Technologies. His team is researching new interaction techniques for virtual and augmented technologies and their applications in gaming, training, health, and learning. His work has been published in high-level journals and conferences. His Google Scholar profile can be accessed here.


John Naslund (PhD Dartmouth College, USA)

  • Affiliation: Instructor in Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, USA
  • Research interests: Digital technology; global mental health; severe mental disorders; youth mental health; implementation science; non-specialist health workers; social media; peer support; social disparities
  • Short bio: John Naslund holds expertise in global mental health epidemiology, implementation science, and digital mental health. His scholarship seeks to advance research aimed at improving the lives of individuals facing the challenges of mental illness worldwide. Dr. Naslund has led numerous projects testing novel digital methods for addressing symptoms of mental illness and risk factors for early mortality in persons living with serious mental illness. He currently leads efforts using digital technology for scaling up evidence-based mental health interventions in India. His Google Scholar profile can be accessed here.

Professor Richard Porter

  • Affiliation: Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch. Canterbury District Health Board
  • Richard Porter is Professor and head of the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch and a Consultant Psychiatrist in a service for adults with intellectual disability. His research has focused on neuropsychological impairment in depression and bipolar disorder and ways of treating this. He is also involved in clinical trials of psychotherapies for mood disorders. Events in Christchurch have also led to an interest in PTSD and the mental health effects of natural disasters and terror attacks. His Google Scholar profile can be accessed here.


Learn More about this journal

Deadline for Manuscript Submission:
December 10, 2021