MESH BASICS - Post One of Six in Series

by Rachele Harmuth | 16 Mar 2023

Industry Commentary, Op-Ed

Thinkfun turns their focus to the global youth mental health crisis and how play can make all the difference in protecting and strengthening children and teens.  The company’s new initiative brings together stakeholders from all over the toys and games industry with the challenge: how do we build MESH (Mental, Emotional and Social Health) skills through play?


In this bi- weekly column for The Bloom Report, we will look into the different areas of this initiative in depth. This week we share an overview of the initiative. 


Kids love to play. They seek it in every situation, and the adults in their lives know that play is valuable. Parents, caregivers, educators, coaches… adults who care about children are all concerned about their mental health and looking for ways to protect and strengthen them as they grow.


The US Surgeon General’s Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health urges adults to empower youth and their families to recognize, manage, and learn from difficult emotions in order to improve mental health and decrease risky and disruptive behaviors. 


Partnering with Dr. Deborah Gilboa, ThinkFun focused on identifying the MESH skills that lead children to build resilience. These eight skills are:

  • Problem solving  
  • Perseverance 
  • Adaptation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-advocacy 
  • Cognitive skills
  • Communication strategies


Reviewing these skills, Dr. Gilboa then identified 4 types of toys and games that directly build these skills. These are toys and games that focus on: 

  • Problem solving
  • Storytelling
  • Increasing challenge over the duration of play
  • Bringing children and their adults together. 


“As we see the growing mental health issues in our youth population, we know that we (the toy industry) have an opportunity to make a real impact on kids’ lives. By helping them build the skills that can make them more resilient, we can strengthen them both for now and for the future.” Rachele Harmuth, Head of ThinkFun.


For more information on the MESH initiative, please visit

mesh play mental health kids emotional health social health

Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!