State of mental health and how technologies like virtual reality can help

Covid-19’s legacy lingers on even beyond 2021. Healthcare is undoubtedly the industry that has been irreversibly altered by the effects of the global epidemic. With major developments in technology and methodologies required to meet the enormous demand for access to healthcare and expanding digitalization of health information, the healthcare business has developed in unique ways to continue to provide the best level of service. Furthermore, significant discoveries and developments are likely to enhance the healthcare business by the end of 2022.

As we move forward, it’s vital to keep an eye on the technological trends influencing healthcare in 2022. Although legacy technology and architecture are pivotal to the development of modern hospitals and care centers, we must evaluate how old systems can merge with newer technology or be substituted with more reliable systems in the future. The emphasis should be on enhanced efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, and security without sacrificing dependability or accessibility.

The mental health situation

With an increasing number of people experiencing a mental health condition at any given point in time, expanding access to healthcare has become critical. In addition, the most efficient forms of therapy entail teaching patients in everyday settings, which takes time and is hence costly.

Psychological therapies delivered in virtual reality (VR) present a viable solution. Going beyond the popular perceptions of it being a gateway to immersive gaming and virtual lives, the technology is increasingly making its presence felt across major industries, healthcare being one of them.

The application of virtual reality in mental health treatment

VR environments produce immersive representations of real-world situations, allowing users to travel and interact with specialists around the world. One can be transported to places and meet people they would otherwise not have access to, and these engagements can be just the therapy that would address several mental health issues effectively.

Importantly, even though it is understood that a VR environment is a simulation, people respond mentally and physiologically as they would in the matching real-world situation. As a result, any knowledge obtained in VR may be used in the real world.

Some VR applications in mental healthcare are listed below:

Virtual Therapists: Virtual reality can provide patients with access to virtual therapists just about anywhere in the world for the best counseling and hands-on activities. Virtual reality treatment (VRT) use specially designed computers, visual immersion devices, and artificially constructed surroundings to provide patients with a simulated experience that can be utilized to diagnose and treat psychiatric problems that cause patients difficulty.

simulated environment: Not everyone can have access to outdoor settings. This is a public health issue because nature enhances human health and well-being by reducing negative environmental stressors and delivering salutogenic experiences. VR could provide patients with optimal environments, which they may not have in the actual world. These are artificial environments are populated with characters who would provide appropriate interactions for the patients, and provide them the much-needed relief.

Virtual activities: A variety of activities are frequently advised for good mental health. Patients can undertake similar activities in a virtual environment utilizing various technologies. Being able to influence events in a virtual world, especially when supervised by a therapist, has a lot of therapeutic potentials. This has been largely used in exposure therapy for mental health.

Aside from exposure, VR can provide a space for people to learn and practice skills in real-world settings. This has been shown to be effective for illnesses such as autism, schizophrenia, and neurocognitive problems.

The adaptability of VR treatments: Another advantage of VR is that it puts people more at ease to engage in virtual representations of situations that prove difficult for them in real life since they realize it’s just a simulation. It’s also easy to experiment with things that might be too dangerous or embarrassing to try in real life. VR scenarios can also be rated in difficulty or even tailored according to the individual. The aim is to start with less stressful scenarios and work the way up as patients gain confidence.

VR provides a single environment from which many modules for treating various diseases can be accessible. Be it phobias of spiders or other concerns including PTSD, anxiety and depression, psychosis, or addiction. This eliminates the need for patients to search for multiple therapists in different locations.

Virtual Reality counselors can also operate without having to be involved in every VR session. VR therapy can ensure that more patients receive the care that they require as soon as possible. Because of this, VR treatment is likely to be cheaper. Owing to the advancements in VR hardware, it is becoming more affordable and viable to apply this technology in psychiatric services in the near future for the treatment of a wide variety of illnesses. While replacing therapists would be difficult, VR could result in more people having access to treatment.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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