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byu mental health card game
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New card game designed to combat mental health symptoms in kids

PROVO, Utah — A card game developed by BYU clinical psychologist Jon Cox sounds a little out of this world. But the outcome is rooted in mental health — specifically the mental health of our children.

Cosmic Battle Training card game

The goal behind the game, Cosmic Battle Training, is to use principles from cognitive behavioral therapy to help kids begin to understand and be aware of their own thoughts and emotions, according to a press release sent from Brigham Young University.

Card playing is already credited with enhancing skills like concentration, memory, decision-making, and even math. Cox hopes to add skills that help combat depression and anxiety to that list.

“The idea is that this game can help youth learn concepts to help them deal with their emotions and their thoughts better,” said Cox, who works in BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

“Ultimately, the game is meant to help improve coping skills and self-resilience in children and teens.”

How a card game aids mental health

On the surface, the card game represents an intergalactic space battle. The goal is to defeat an opponent using offensive and defensive strategies. The game turns into a mental health teaching tool when kids read a therapeutic principle at the bottom of each card. Kids can then integrate that principle into their play.

For instance, a card can ask a player to think about what they’d tell a friend if the friend were in the same situation represented on the card. In another example, the player calculates the probability of something bad happening if they take the action on the card.

The rising instances of mental health disorders in children

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that one out of six kids in the United States between the ages of 6 and 17 will experience a mental health disorder each year.

NAMI also reports that nearly half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14.

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