Mental illness is by its very nature hard to control for the individual concerned. Advocates want to adopt a strategic approach to managing mental illness. Mental health advocates counsel against spontaneous, short-term processes as personal experience implies these will possibly not suffice. Playing chess can give people with mental illnesses to practice a different kind of thinking. Being capable of developing, harnessing, and sharpening thinking abilities is essential to chess and vital to recovery. The similarities are plentiful and useful discussions may well produce further areas of overlap.

The views of these advocates are shared by several but remains controversial given present scientific practice. They aren’t dogmatic about their views that chess exhibits a microcosm of life itself. They are more concerned about creating a dialogue and getting a discussion started.

Over the last decade these advocates have been been pushing chess as a therapy for the mentally ill. Their backgrounds vary, some have jobs as social workers in the mental health field. A few even have degrees in creative writing. Some are authors but mostly all of them play chess.

Mental health therapy comes in numerous forms. Psilocybin mushrooms used to be given as treatment for depression. Puppet shows can aid in overcoming social anxiety. And chess, obviously, can be used to encourage a true psychological bond between client and therapist.

Think of chess as a brain workout that schools a certain set of mental muscles. The game necessitates focus, image of consequences, analysis, abstract thinking, planning and execution. The deeper these muscles get in the context of playing chess, the simpler it is to translate that skill set to everyday life.

Boss won’t get off your back? Feeling caught in a dead-end job? It might be time to belly up to the chess board and get yourself going.

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