Can VR Help Mental Health?

VR padeda gerinti emocine sveikata

Greitėjantis gyvenimo tempas kiekvienam kelia daug streso, nuo to prastėja ir mūsų emocinė sveikata. Turbūt daugelis sutiktų, jog net ir po ilgos darbo dienos dažnai negalime atsipalaiduoti. Nors ir jaučiamės pavargę, mintys nerimsta ir sukasi aplink praėjusios dienos įvykius. Neveltui Pasaulio sveikatos organizacija stresą apibūdino kaip vieną iš XXI amžiaus „sveikatos epidemijos“ priežasčių. Moksliniai tyrimai rodo, jog suvaldyti nerimą, stresą ir net pagerinti miego kokybę gali virtuali realybė.

Virtual reality - a great tool to treat mental illness!

Virtual Reality, or VR, has been around for decades, the term being coined by Jaron Lanier in 1987. VR and mental health have been paired since VR’s inception, as it was used in the 1990s to treat PTSD. In fact, VR is still used to help treat PTSD, with such programs as Bravemind from the University of Southern California, which targets veterans of the Afghanistan war to help them with their PTSD through controlled simulations.

The reason VR is effective at treating issues like PTSD and social anxiety is that it creates immersive, controllable simulations for patients. VR is an excellent tool for exposure therapy, a mental health treatment that exposes the subject to their fears or anxieties through acted-out scenarios.

Exposure therapy can be used in cases of social anxiety, with VR “pubs” for individuals to practice socializing; to cases of substance abuse with digital interventions. Studies are still ongoing about the effectiveness of VR, but much of the published results look promising. VR has also been applied to mental health treatments for depression, phobias, eating disorders, and even conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Some groups of autistic adults and children have used VR to help gain independence by practicing reading social cues in simulations. There have even been discussions of applying VR to forensic psychiatry.

VR therapy has its drawbacks...

Therapy with VR has been taken to a whole new level, as some companies are trying to create virtual therapy spaces for individuals, complete with a virtual therapist, either from a human or AI model. Research groups from Oxford and University College London, who have developed these virtual therapists argue that having a therapist avatar within VR can make therapy more flexible or affordable for some individuals.

Teigiamą virtualios realybės poveikį pastebėjo ir „WellnessVR“ įkūrėjai, kurie savo platforma siekia pagerinti senjorų emocinę savijautą. Jie du mėnesius tyrė virtualios realybės poveikį ir nustatė, kad virtuali realybė padeda senjorams išlaikyti aukštą teigiamų emocijų lygį, taip ir gerėja emocinė sveikata.

Many experts argue that there need to be ethical guidelines and data privacy rules in place when using VR to treat mental health conditions.