VR Boosts Mental Health Care Outcomes [video]


Daniel Freeman, Profession of clinical psychology at Oxford University and co-founder of Oxford VR , believes that VR technology can revolutionize mental health care. In April, Oxford VR published a new whitepaper that demonstrates how the company’s VR platform uses gamification to make therapy more engaging and effective while improving access to high-quality treatment.

The paper highlights a growing body of evidence regarding Oxford VR’s immersive technology, which helps individuals who struggle with environmentally-based mental health triggers. The platform provides experiential training for patients with phobias and other anxiety disorders, such as fear of heights or social anxiety.

To create VR programs that simulate triggering situations, Freeman and his co-founder Barnaby Perks hired Benn Garnish, an animator and visual effects artist. With his impressive film background, Garnish brings an artist’s touch to evidence-based psychological techniques. Rendered in impressive detail, the platform’s avatars and environments make simulations look, feel, and sound realistic… and they elicit authentic emotions. Based on clinically-validated protocols, a virtual guide helps the patient process their feelings while gradually overcoming their anxiety surrounding the trigger.

The new paper references a 2018 clinical trial, which shows the Oxford VR system produced outcomes that outperformed traditional, in-person interventional therapy. The study determined that six sessions of automated VR therapy, conducted over two weeks, reduced the fear of heights in patients by 68%.

Oxford VR works with the National Health Service to provide the system to patients in the UK. A partnership with the National Mental Health Innovation Center at the University of Colorado has facilitated US expansion of the platform. AXA Healthcare will work to make the system available in Asia.

Freeman and the team at Oxford VR expect to see mobile versions of their technology become available for use in the home soon. That prospect could have big implications, especially as Oxford VR continues to develop programs for schizophrenia, paranoia, psychosis, and other debilitating conditions.

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