Concordia University Wisconsin Working to Get the Message Out on Keeping Gamers Safe

Courtesy of, written by Chris Burt 

Esports competitors are not immune from pressure and stress simply because they spend long hours playing video games. Far from it. The quest for perfection, the toxicity that can exist in online spaces and the toll of rigorous play can have profound impacts on those who game.

The intense atmospheres can exacerbate stress, anxiety and depression and be more impactful for those already experiencing strains on mental health. During the pandemic, as students have become more isolated with live in-person play mostly canceled, concerns over student safety have been magnified.

Concordia University in Wisconsin is one institution hoping to provide a more positive, more uplifting tone to its program through a new partnership with the Jordan Porco Foundation. The two are working together on a new an eight-hour-long livestreaming “Check In” event that launches Saturday, April 17, on Twitch.

“We know that stigma prevents too many college students, especially athletes, from seeking help for mental health illnesses,” says Marisa Giarnella-Porco, Co-Founder and CEO of the Jordan Porco Foundation. “Adding our Check In program to CUW Esports’ livestreaming event creates a unique opportunity for young adults to engage in important mental health conversations within the safe space of their streaming community.”

Very low percentages of esports players are willing to seek help when faced with adversity so the importance of events like this – and the recognition that mental health issues do exist for this group of students on college campuses – is important.

“This is a really great event to continue our conversations on campus around Mental Wellness,” said shared Jeremy Schumacher, Mental Wellness Coach at CUW. “The Check In program gives student athletes additional tools to take care of their mental well-being and to reduce the stigma around mental health issues.”

Combining the resources of a university team – which has more than 70 student-athletes competing at a high level across more than a dozen titles – along with an organization dedicated to preventing suicide while promoting strong peer-run programs is a win-win.

“With our program revolving around spending time online, mental health has always been something we have prioritized,” said Lewis Smith, Head Coach, CUW Esports. “We know how toxic the internet can be, so we make sure keeping track of our mental health is built into our program. We are thrilled to partner with JPF to help bring even more awareness and attention to the importance of checking in with yourself.”

The NECC began sponsoring esports in the fall of 2020. The NECC is currently sponsoring both regular season competition and championships across a wide variety of titles. The conference aims to serve the gaming community with respect and is a safe and inclusive environment. With more than 90 colleges and universities currently competing in the conference, the NECC is proud to be a positive home for the collegiate gaming community. For more information, please visit