Updated: Jan 25, 2021
Health departments across the world are assessing the impact of COVID-19 on mental disorders: phobias, anxiety, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Virtual reality has helped in this area in the past and will be a great ally in helping those now affected.
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges through physical distancing and stay-at-home orders. Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States between April and June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.
In the UK, it’s predicted that the impact of COVID-19 will see up to 10 million people needing mental health support as a direct consequence of the crisis.At the University of Oxford, many participants with severe mental health disorders challenge their fears through VR therapy as it produces a controlled environment, with therapists able to control what a patient sees and hears. They are also able to make adjustments and provide a tailored approach to the needs of the patient. Also, therapist can go to the patient with VR system, if need be.
This research was conducted by Oxford VR and University of Oxford, with the professor of Clinical Psychology Freeman. The trial saw 100 people with a prolonged fear of heights either receive VR therapy or no treatment. Those who received VR therapy experienced 5 treatment sessions guided by a virtual assistant, resulting in an average 68% reduction in their fear of heights.
The full physical, emotional, and mental impact on people's health due to COVID-19 cannot be determined yet, but a clear need already exists. With that goal laid out, Virtual Reality will be a great tool for professionals to use and help these people through their pain.
Source: CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of United of State of America
VR Focus Magazine