Stacking Rings Game

This page describes the physical version of our risk and resilience game that we use at science festivals and other in-person events. 

We use this activity to initiate conversations about mental health and resilience. 

Stacking rings and dice

The stick represents a 'person'. 

Each roll of the dice adds a 'risk factor' (genetic, environmental or lifestyle). 
Some of the rings are thick (high risk), others are thin (low risk)
Sometimes you do not add a ring at all. 

If the top of the stack goes above the red line, the 'person' has become unwell. 

However, if you role a resilience factor such as meditation or social connections, you can move the red line (band) up the stick. 

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[Watch Video on YouTube:]

Much of our research focuses on gaining a better understanding of how these factors interact. 

Poster showing risk factors for mental ill-health

[Download a copy of the poster: Risk Factors Poster (PDF)]


[Poster Text: Who is at risk of mental ill-health?
The development of mental illness is rarely, if ever, caused by a single risk factor. 
It is a complex set of interactions, that researchers are still trying to understand. 

Genetic Factors
These are genetic factors that make people more or less susceptible to mental illness. 
Mental health is 'polygenic' - it depends on many hundreds of genes acting together. 
Even a gene that is strongly associated with mental ill-health, only increases a person's risk by a very small amount. 

Environmental Factors
These are external to the person and relate to the world in which they live and function e.g. 

  • Stressful life events (e.g. a death in the family)
  • Early childhood trauma
  • A physical health condition
  • Having children
  • Living arrangements
  • Low household income. 

Women are more likely that men to experience common mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. 

Lifestyle Factors
Most things that affect your physical health can also affect your mental health e.g. 

  • smoking
  • poor sleep quality
  • poor diet/overweight
  • Alcohol or drug misuse 

Some things help us bounce back from hard times e.g. 

  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness/meditation
  • Close family and friends]
Published July 31, 2021 8:59 AM - Last modified July 31, 2021 8:59 AM