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A bunch of questions on this site involve discussions around mental health (namely, I found this one), so I've created the tag .

It's a subject that needs to be handled with care (not something that always happens both at the table or in RPG books themselves), and part of my hope was having an explicit tag with good information would help us handle this topic well.

Can we make a good tag wiki for ?

It's probably a good tag to have, look at these results

I'm hoping that's still a good number, and regardless it's definitely something people can be experts on in a way that's relevant and helpful here.

There's also a lot of talk about using roleplaying games for therapy and how it has helped some people with their mental health. The sort of mechanics in question are also frequently the topic for discussion, such as in this mythcreants podcast and this article.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think we need a list of candidate questions before we can establish a tag wiki. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 18, 2021 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov, I've included search results and if I have time later I'll drop some actual questions in this post. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 18, 2021 at 12:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’ve updated the links and result counts to include only questions. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 18, 2021 at 12:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are a lot of mainsite questions that center around suicide--more than collected across the three categories enumerated in this post, at a quick glance. And they're split between some that treat it very casually ("in-game my character wants to charge into the enemy camp kamikaze-style, how can they do the most damage?") vs. some that treat it very seriously ("an NPC sacrificed themself in a set-piece, and it caused some serious difficulty for some of my players..."). And both are perfectly reasonable and valid ways to talk about it! (1/2) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Dec 18, 2021 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you--or anyone--have thoughts on whether/how those questions would be well or poorly served by a grouping like this? I don't know where I come down, personally, and I think I'm probably way too close to it to be helpful. But my gut says it's worth being intentional about. (2/2) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Dec 18, 2021 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 briefly while I'm gathering my thoughts, my intuition is tag would let us handle them more sensitively both in terms of players mental health at the table, as well as game mechanics that purport to reflect mental health but likely don't. It would also attract experts with real world experience who could lend authority without actually dispensing advice. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 18, 2021 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 We can use mental health with a proper usuage guide, being explicit that it is for the latter — while the former is a valid question, it doesn't appear to be about mental health. Instead it is about optimising damage and should use the related tags and perhaps also character death. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Dec 18, 2021 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu that seems right to me, and I hope that sort of thinking would be included in the eventual product. (If suicide, generally, comes under this umbrella, rather than getting its own, separate treatment.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Dec 18, 2021 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not reflected in the opener yet: ADHD (typically you find these to have problem-players), OCD, Manias, Phobias and of course many other issues. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Dec 20, 2021 at 6:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish I don't think ADHD tends to be bundled with mental health \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2021 at 8:45

3 Answers 3

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I have a feeling that we should look at two separate aspects that fall under the tag as described by ASR:

  • Portraying a mental health issue of a character, either how to do it in general or in a way that is respectful. e.g. playing a character that has a trait named Schizophrenic/Depressive/Anxious/Compulsive/... or is clearly depicting such a mental health issue
  • working with a players mental health issue to enable participation. e.g. Playing with someone that is schizophrenic/depressive/anxious/has OCD

I am not yet sure if is the best to bundle both, but the latter could mandate to add .

Possibly there are several crossovers into for both when a player has a mental health issue that disrupts play, and a person playing a character with a mental health issue disrupts play by the manner how they do.

To show the differences and similarities an example:

"I want to play a character that has the compulsion of gutting fish all the time. Is there a way to depict this compulsion disorder without being disruptive and disrespectful?"

"My newest player is having a compulsion disorder and asks me again and again to clean the windows of any building I describe as being dirty. How can I help them not to try this thing over and over?"

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    \$\begingroup\$ The first aspect certainly applies to enough questions to justify having a tag, I'm not sure about the second aspect. Were you arguing for one tag to cover both aspects or separate tags? \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Dec 19, 2021 at 23:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Portraying a mental health issue of a character" I can't help but think that this has more in common with questions asking how to roleplay another group without being offensive or stereotypical (e.g. roleplaying another ethnicity or a man roleplaying a woman) than it does with real-world mental health issues (ie bullet 2). There's currently no tag uniting these together either and I have no tag name suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Laurel
    Dec 20, 2021 at 4:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I have the feeling that currently the suggested tag is mean to handle both these things - I am actually unsure if it should (you could certainly do it with tagging properly by adding roleplay or accessibility in addition) \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Dec 20, 2021 at 5:56
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Here is a community wiki answer (open to edits from the community) with the proviso that this suggestion keeps the use of for both characters and players.

I haven't finished writing the 'Full Tag Wiki', but when done, it should contain a more detailed explanation of:

  • what questions should have this tag?
  • some basic definitions
  • brief introduction to the subject
  • important links for learning more
  • one reasonably sized page

Using advice from the SO blog post How to write excellent tag wikis.


Tag Usage Guidance (440/500 characters)

Use this tag for questions about both the mental health of players, and the portrayal of mental health in games. This tag is not an excuse to dispense unqualified advice about mental health. Use with [accessibility] or [social] for questions about player mental health; use with [roleplay], a system tag, or another appropriate tag like [game-design] or [history-of-gaming] for in-game mental health.

Full tag wiki (30k character limit)

Both the mental health of players an the way they are portrayed in games are important to be able to discuss

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I think it's way to broad as a tag.

Even only one aspect of the tag, in-game mental health, is about as useful as would be. Can there be an expert across systems that knows a lot about physical health in games? Same goes for mental health. This ranges from no mention at all, to "saving throw or you are feebleminded" to actual systems and tables of corruption and insanity. Seems far fetched that one would be expert in all. Would an expert use that tag to find questions they can answer? Seems equally far fetched.

Player's mental health is a very sensitive subject where nobody here should be an expert or give expert advice other than "seek professional help".

So mixing these two together, I don't see a good reason for the tag to exist. We don't need a tag for everything. That's what the body of a question is for. Anybody can ask those questions and get answers. Tags are for categorizing, so experts can find questions to answer and I don't think that "mental health" is a good category in that regard.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A lot of mental health is interconnected, so while it might seem as though that analogy works with physical health, it's not going to be directly comparable. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2021 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even if not (I doubt it), it still is not a good tag. A tag is meant to give experts a means to categorize questions. Would there ever be an expert on "player and character mental health"? \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Dec 19, 2021 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve got a friend who is a mental health professional and is into RPGs… \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2021 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I deal with ADHD, depresion, and anxiety, things that fall into mental health classifications. I strongly and wholly reject the idea that I can only be given advice about these things by a mental health professional. I have received tons of helpful advice on navigating what I face by ordinary peers who experience what I experience or have navigated these issues with somoene who does. To suggest this is invalid inappropriately pathologises me and suggests I should be disconnected from genuinely constructive avenues of guidance. Some things are the domain of professionals, but not everything. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2021 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Is your friend an expert in Warhammer corruption tables, Cthulu insanity, Cyberpunk drug abuse, and all the other games' mental health systems? Because that is what this tag says: "Expert on mental health, regardless of system". That is why I don't think it's a good tag. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Dec 19, 2021 at 19:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ While I'm a professional software developer (lets just assume I know stuff about computers), a tag like "computers", that is for all computer use in roleplaying games, as well as all computer problems players have, would be insanely broad. It wouldn't make any sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Dec 19, 2021 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I would say the same about physical health, too. I do not support a "physical health" tag that is described as "characters and players problems with their physical health". I'm saying the exact same thing: if you have a medical problem, go see a professional (I guess some general practitioner in that case), not random dudes (and dudettes) on the internet. After proper diagnosis and treatment, we can suggest solutions for problems that are not strictly medical. How to get to the room on third floor with a broken leg in a cast is not exactly a medical problem for example. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Dec 19, 2021 at 20:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mental health is not physical health. They do not function the same way, and mental and physical health conditions are not diagnosed, treated, nor handled the same way by either professionals or the community that experiences them. Equating them like this is flatly incorrect. Applying the rules you'd apply to physical health to mental health is incorrect. We're not discussing physical health; we're discussing mental health, and in this case pathologising it to the extent that nobody can advise you on it in any regard beside professionals is incorrect. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2021 at 20:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I never said it's the same. Arson and mental health is not the same either. I would still insist that if the house is burning, you call the firefighters, not RPG.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Dec 19, 2021 at 20:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ You more or less did say they're the same. I did not bring up physical health; you did in response to me. The question is not talking about physical health; you did in response to it. You are equating them and suggesting that how we handle them is transitive and equivalent: we would handle physical health this way, so we should handle mental health this same way. Otherwise, if they're really inequal and have nothing to do with each other such that how we handle one has nothing to do with the other, what was the point of bringing up physical health? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2021 at 20:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ And the fact is they are not the same, they do not function remotely similarly, how we handle them is extremely inequal and completely intransitive. In fact, applying all the same rules of physical health to mental health is disastrously messed up because of how inequal they are and what it takes to handle and navigate them—not even mental healthcare professionals are advocating anything like this! Seeking supportive advice for navigating a mental health problem from my peers is a good thing for mental health, and even an accredited therapist would tell you so. This isn't physical health. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2021 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay. Let's agree they are not the same. Do you have anything to say to the actual point of my answer, that the tag is not useful, because one cannot possibly be an expert in it? \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Dec 19, 2021 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe it's possible for us to give advice on helping players navigate social issues around the table that concern mental health & that we have done it before. I believe also that given tags as broad as "combat" and "conditions" and "spells" exist, and remembering our tagging hierarchy is not beholden to D&D, the "nobody can be an expert on this mechanically" argument is on shaky ground. I do have the concern these two facets maybe should not be in one tag together, but that's not the argument this answer makes—it argues that neither facet is supportable & I disagree. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2021 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm sorry, I made the same mistake I always make when I post on RPG.SE, coming here from a professional minded stack and mistakenly assuming the same consensus about SE in general applies. This SE is very different in it's core assumptions about how SE should be run and I guess I do not fit in with those. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Dec 20, 2021 at 8:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt I do not believe a tag's existence requires the possibility for someone to be an expert in all conceivable facets of the subject matter. We don't have the [c#] tag on Stack Overflow because Jon Skeet and Eric Lippert exist, we have it because people can answer questions within that domain. I also don't believe anyone needs to be an expert on every single D&D spell. It's totally acceptable for people to have areas they know about and areas they don't. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2021 at 15:30

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