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Sidekick: The Video Games Mental Health Journal Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Sidekick: The Video Games Mental Health Journal

Publisher: Peregrine Coast Press
Words: Sky Tunley-Stainton, Harry Stainer and Rosie Taylor
Illustration: Tristan McGuire and Megan Dobbyn
Design: Eryk Sawicki
Website: Safe In Our World Sidekick: The Video Games Mental Health Journal
Price: £15.00

A journal was provided for review purposes

A Not So Unusual Pairing

Mental health is something that each and every one of us deals with in our lives. A lot of gamers turn to video games to help with their mental struggles including myself. Particularly in recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of games with mental health as one of their key themes. Slowly, with the help of these games and gamers sharing their struggles, the stigma surrounding mental health is becoming less and less, with games and mental health going hand in hand.

Sidekick: The Video Games Mental Health Journal has taken this idea, described as “both a journal and a resource focused on improving the mental health of those in the games community (and anyone who needs it).” Hearing this description immediately intrigued me, alongside the colourful front cover, and I was ready to get stuck in! But is this journal worthy of being your sidekick through life? Let’s find out.

Playful Paperback

Sidekick is the perfect size to take anywhere with you; at an A5 size, it can easily slip into a rucksack or sizeable handbag if you wish to journal on the go. The cover thickness feels of good quality, protecting the 100gsm paper inside. The font is simple so as not to take away from the illustrated repeated pattern, working well together. The illustrations themselves on the light blue background are reminiscent of doodles, invoking the creative nature of the journal itself while also featuring items to do with gaming too. Though colourful, its muted shades are easy on the eyes.

The Sidekick journal being held up against a bookshelf with plushies on
A perfect addition to my gaming themed shelves!

In terms of the product itself, it’s immediately apparent that it’s an item of quality, giving a great first impression!

Let’s Get Creative

Sidekick features just over 50 pages of activities before going into the rest of the book, which are dotted pages free to fill with whatever you please. With my first flick through, I thought this was disappointing, expecting more activities and fewer blank pages. These seemed like such a massive chunk of the journal. However, after a closer look, the activity pages are so rich with various content, which could also inspire you to repeat similar activities without the guidelines on the blank pages.

The activities involved colouring in, drawing, and writing, with a little bit of reading too. These varied from planning a self-care day, creating a video game boss, and completing recipe cards. Only the recipe cards were repeated a few times, which makes sense as you’ll have a few favourite recipes you might want to jot down! There was such a nice range of things to do that I loved seeing what activity would come next. You didn’t have to necessarily do it in order either, being able to skip between the pages. This was broken up by some lovely illustrated pages with quotes from video games.

A Mental Health Resource…

Though mental health and video games are intertwined beautifully, I wanted to focus on how they are approached separately. Though the act of journaling in itself is beneficial for mental health, Sidekick is a little more specific than that. It offers tips for dealing with stress, including breathing exercises, and offers the opportunity to note your warning signs of burnout, for example. There’s a page on emotional literacy and drawing what each of your emotions looks like too. Putting all of these things into a physical form makes you feel less alone; as the journal states, “5 in 100 adults experience depression each year.”

The Sidekick journal open to a colouring page with pencils around it and an Xbox controller
I loved the diversity of this colouring activity.

The reflective element of the journal helps to calm you down as well, such as setting goals for the future and what you’re proud of. It allows you to focus on the positive while also acknowledging that it’s okay to struggle too, such as recognising your warning signs of mental ill health. As mentioned, though, even just the act of reflecting and colouring in takes your mind off things.

The journal is written so beautifully, too; it doesn’t feel judgemental, validating your emotions and easily guiding you, informal as if you’re speaking with a friend. This is often done through the context of video games.

And Love of Video Games

Many of Sidekick’s activities reference video games or are themed around them, but apply them to real-life scenarios. There’s a section on the primary themes of farming and life sims, such as Animal Crossing being relationships, and you are then prompted to write a letter to a friend. There is then a section to draw your mental illness as a videogame boss, writing down ways to defeat it with illustrations of a heart meter getting lower. It’s definitely something unique that I haven’t seen before. This journal will be much appreciated by gamers as it holds your interest a little bit more than perhaps a normal journal.

The Sidekick journal lying open with video game memorabilia around it.
Each activity was thought-provoking.

There are then fun and therapeutic activities like writing down your ultimate playlist of video game tracks or reflecting on your favourite childhood games. There’s even space to write down your gaming backlog (hopefully with the intention of finally tackling a few!). As mentioned, there are also fully illustrated pages with inspirational quotes from video games, which would make fantastic prints. The artwork in these and throughout the journal features colourful doodle-like drawings. With nice clean linework and flat colours, it decorates and complements rather than distracts you from the activities.

The Perfect Sidekick

Ultimately, I have found it very difficult to find anything negative to say about this wonderful journal! It has your best interests at heart, offering not only the medium of creativity but focusing on mental health itself. This is then linked with video games perfectly, adding a unique flair to journaling that I’ve never seen before. Whether you want targeted help or more freedom, there’s a range of things to do. Not only that, but it looks and feels of premium quality, and the writing style is professional yet friendly.

I can’t wait to continue filling in my Sidekick copy and would recommend it to anyone who needs a means to visualise their problems, reflect and relax!

Rapid Reviews Rating

5 out of 5


You can purchase Sidekick: The Video Games Mental Health Journal here.

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