Individualised Virtual Reality for Supporting Depression: Feedback from Mental Health Professionals

Nilufar Baghaei, Atefeh Ahmadi, Imran Khaliq, Hai Ning Liang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mental health conditions pose a major challenge to healthcare providers and society at large. According to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, one in five people will develop a serious mood disorder, including depression, at some time in their life [2]. Early intervention can have significant positive impact on a person's prognosis, particularly important in affecting outcomes for young people [38]. Co-designed solutions to improve resilience and well-being in young people have specifically been recognised as part of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy and the NZ Health Strategy. Innovative interventions that support long-term change for individuals are urgently needed [10]. Self-compassion/self-criticism constitutes a protective/risk factor with regard to developing and maintaining depression [3], particularly in young people [4]. Self-criticism is one of the major psychological factors, defined as dominant response style of negative evaluation and judgement of self to perceived failure [5]. One effective method to increase self-compassion and reduce depression may be to address self-criticism through compassion-focused therapy [6]. Virtual Reality (VR) in Health is an emerging field. It is becoming more commonplace with the advent of affordable consumer head-mounted devices, and has significant potential for the understanding, assessment and treatment of mental health problems [7]. It can provide a non-threatening, zero risk environment which allows for free exploring of different strategies [16]. Recent studies support the use of VR technology in the treatment of anxiety, phobia, and pain management. However, there is little research on using VR for supporting, treating and preventing depression. There is also very little work done in offering an individualised VR experience to improve mental health. In our earlier work, we presented iVR, a novel individualised VR experience for enhancing peoples' self-compassion, and in the long run, their mental health, and described its design and architecture. which focuses on real world situations that impact the sample group most and assists them to view these experiences with a selfcompassionate lens. This is achieved by being taught compassionate manners of responding to a scenario and by switching perspective. We approached seven mental health professionals for feedback. They felt that introducing elements of choice within iVR would increase their knowledge of clients. We describe their feedback in detail and highlight key points for discussion pertaining to technology use, data safety, privacy, and considerations for addressing depressive symptoms necessary to advance this work. We believe Our contribution can pave the way for large-scale efficacy testing, clinical use, and cost-effective delivery of intelligent individualised VR technology for mental health therapy in future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality Adjunct, ISMAR-Adjunct 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages63-67
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781665412988
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event20th IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality Adjunct, ISMAR-Adjunct 2021 - Virtual, Online, Italy
Duration: 4 Oct 20218 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2021 IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality Adjunct, ISMAR-Adjunct 2021

Conference

Conference20th IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality Adjunct, ISMAR-Adjunct 2021
Country/TerritoryItaly
CityVirtual, Online
Period4/10/218/10/21

Keywords

  • Mental health
  • Self-compassion
  • Virtual reality

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