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Dungeons & Dragons: More Than Just Fantasy

TCU


In the fall of 2019, the Counseling & Mental Health Center launched the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) Supportive Community to combat a loneliness factor they believed could be affecting certain groups of TCU students. In less than a week, the D&D Supportive Community was full, and a waitlist created.

Dr. Eric Wood, Director of Counseling & Mental Health, explained. “Our Support Communities is a new initiative to bring together like-minded students to combat the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness. Many students who are gamers report a perception that they don’t fit into the mainstream campus culture. This perception creates a risk for mental health problems, as well as threats to school retention. We’re already seeing overwhelming positive results in terms of attendance, community building, and excitement from the students.”

Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop game that first came out in 1974. According to Wizards of the Coast, the publishers of D&D, there are currently an estimated 13.7 million active D&D players worldwide. And with D&D becoming more mainstream, in part thanks to it being featured in the Netflix hit Stranger Things, projections are that the number of D&D players will continue to rise. In D&D, you play as a group with each player creating a character with different skills and personality traits. Everyone in the game goes on an adventure together. D&D forces players to work together to find creative solutions to unpredictable problems.

“Quite honestly, it is the best part of my week every week,” Arie Wright, a Fashion Merchandising major said. “I’ve never really had difficulties with academics in my time at TCU, but instead I have struggled to find a community where I fit in. I struggle with anxiety and was diagnosed this semester with ADHD; I often struggle to keep my attention on the task or conversation at hand. The one time each week where I do feel comfortable, feel normal, and have fun, is at D&D. No matter how stressful the week, how bad my day, or how isolated I feel, I always feel better leaving the weekly session. I feel more centered, more anchored, more valued, and I have people to communicate with during the week to discuss the campaign or my character. For three hours every week, I have the sense of community I have been craving for the last three years. I feel my mental health has been helped by the weekly session, and that the community has helped me feel more anchored to TCU.”

To learn more about campus support communities and the Counseling Center, please visit counseling.tcu.edu.

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