Can tabletop role-playing games really help with mental health?

By James Cannell

Tabletop role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons have been found to help with Autism, social anxiety and stress relief, according to the clinical director of a mental health charity.


Dr Raffael Boccamazzo, Clinical Director of non-profit charity Take This, has been using Dungeons and Dragons to help struggling teens develop social skills.

Dr Boccamazzo talked in an interview with Wizards of the Coast about how he used the game as therapy, the podcast can be found here.

In Leicester, Mechanical Engineering student Will Seal is a regular player of Dungeons of Dragons. He said: “The game gives you a kind of escapism that makes it a lot easier to talk to people.”

Will struggles with social interactions and admitted: “I’ve never really been a social extrovert, I’m even bordering on social anxiety.”

But when playing the game Will comes alive with charisma, he says: “It is a lot easier to talk to people, because in the moment of the game it’s not you talking, it’s the character that you’re playing”

In the past, the game has been criticised and has been deeply stereotyped because of its complexity.

At its core, the game is about group storytelling, with players rolling dice to determine what happens to the characters they play in the game.

But of course, it is much more complicated than that with some ‘casual’ games lasting almost three hours.

Will said: “You tend to be immersed in what you’re doing so you tend to forget anything that was bothering you before the game.”

If you think you would like to play any kind of tabletop games, there is a DMU Game Society that meet every Thursday. You can contact them on Facebook or at


  1. […] James Cannell has been out investigating the effects of tabletop role-play games on mental health disorders such as autism and social […]

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