Mahjong was created in China in 19th century. It was a result of many variants of similar games, which were played in ancient societies for hundreds and thousands of years. The game of skill and intense strategy was not introduced to America until the 1920s. It was a huge success. A Stanford University report states that many Americans of different cultures took to the game immediately. New research in Social Science & Medicine shows that mahjong may offer more than just a reason to get together with friends .
Research by the University of Georgia found that mahjong players who were known to regularly break out their tiles had lower rates of depression among older Chinese adults and middle-aged people. The game of skill can be a stimulating hobby that can keep your brain sharp. However, mahjong ‘s social component may have an impact on holistic mental health. With the assistance of Chinese scientists at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, researchers discovered the strong link between social activities and mental health.
Data from over 11,000 Chinese residents aged 45 and older was analyzed by the combined teams. Scientists classified their social interactions which included hanging out with friends playing team sports, volunteering in communities, and playing mahjong. The team discovered that people who participated in a mix of social activities had better mental health overall than those who didn’t. The risk of depression was also significantly lower for those who played mahjong in urban settings.
Researchers believe that others can also benefit from mahjong if they practice it regularly, as long as they do not use it for gambling.
“Social participation manifests in different formats within various cultural contexts,” Adam Chen, one of the study co-authors, stated in a release. “Older Asian Americans have an even higher percentage of suicidal thoughts that whites and African Americans… Improving the social participation of older Asian Americans could help to alleviate this burden on the U.S., which has not been given the due attention.”