How Cosplay and Roleplay Helps Boost Mental Wellbeing

Kids showing off their cosplay creations - Comic Con Africa 2018

Dressing up as your favourite characters from a film, book, or game and acting the part provides a wonderfully fun and creative outlet. It starts from a young age, while playing in the backyard, and for some, it becomes a professional career, but did you know that there are also incredible benefits for mental wellbeing when taking part in Cosplay and roleplay.

Global stats show that maintaining positive mental health on the daily is becoming increasingly challenging for many of us. According to the World Health Organisation, one in every seven people face daily mental health challenges. The experiences of anxiety, depression, uncontrollable moods, eating disorders and behavioural difficulties are realities that many people of all ages and identifications struggle with every day, but one of the solutions could be as simple as putting on a costume for a few hours.

Local research backs this up. The Human Sciences Research Council has found that the first lockdown period in South Africa in 2020 saw 33% of people becoming depressed, while 45% were fearful, and 29% experienced loneliness. Even though things are starting to have a semblance of normality, we are not out of the woods yet, and this is where cosplay has such a critical role to play.

Advocates say that the freedom cosplay gives them to be whoever they want to be for a few hours means they can forget about the stresses of their everyday lives. By turning their focus to something they feel passionate about, brings a sense of joy few can argue with.

Furthermore, the cosplay community (and the broader pop culture community) is one without judgement. People are connected by a shared passion for something. It’s great to have fans come up to you while you are wearing your outfit, to ask about the specific character or just to pose for photographs, not to mention the confidence brought about by transforming into a character you resonate with.

In Psychology Today, Dr Robert Muller believes that it is this cosplay and the resultant roleplay that provide people with an increased sense of confidence and makes them feel like they can do things they would normally be unable to do. For example, chatting to a large group of people about the costume or the character. It is through this expression that mental wellbeing gets a significant boost.


11 Of The Coolest Cosplays At Comic Con

He adds that cosplaying can also provide a sense of empowerment, something that has become an important issue today. For women, this can include ‘acquiring’ traits not normally associated with them by mainstream society, such as power and control. When they return to their normal lives, they will benefit from the increased confidence resulting from such a cosplay session.

“Comic Con Africa is around the corner, providing the perfect platform for cosplayers from across the country and continent to showcase their talents. Good mental wellbeing benefits everyone and is a very important aspect in day to day life. By providing our fans with the opportunity to cosplay, roleplay for fun and in various competitions, we give them an outlet to channel all their creativity and highlight just what makes Africa such a unique continent,” says Comic Con Africa Content Director, Rene Staack.


29DaysOfBlackCosplay is another fight back against racism

Comic Con Africa, Africa’s largest multi-genre pop-culture and gaming festival, will be taking place in Johannesburg and Cape Town this year.

Words provided by Comic Con Africa.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policies of The Daily Vox.