BELL COUNTY, Texas — As cosplayers prepare to descend on the Bell County Expo Center for the Bell County Comic Con, mental health professional Dr. Selin Santos says their hobby can be about a lot more than dressing up. 

"Cosplaying can be really beneficial for mental health because people get very creative, and they are very imaginative," Santos said. "That process is actually really, really helpful in regard to mental health."

Santos said cosplay can help people work through issues like depression, anxiety, social isolation and even cope with trauma. 

"If actually we look at depression, it's actually helping with everything involved in depression," Santos said. "So, it's increasing pleasurable activities because it is fun to create a costume, put on a costume and go to Comic Con. It decreases social isolation because you're in a social setting. It also decreases a sense of hopelessness because you see other like-minded folks."

Attending events like Bell County Comic Con also helps people connect with others who share their passions. 

"It actually helps people have sense of community, a sense of family, sense of creating that meaning and purpose that they might not have elsewhere," Santos said. "There's also a sense of non-judgment. There's a sense of, ‘hey, it doesn't matter what costume you're wearing. No one's going to judge you for who you are, or what you've done in the past. You are the person that we see in front of you.’"

Bell County Comic Con is Aug. 3-4 at the Bell County Expo Center.