Mental Health: Where Virtual Reality Meets Real Life
If you thought that VR was only meant for gamers, then think again. As part of a ground-breaking initiative, CAPS (CU Boulder’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services) has seen some light in merging VR with clinics to treat students suffering from mental health conditions.
Although VR was predicted to be a long way from diagnosing mental health conditions, the continued partnership between clinicians and VR developers has seemed to bear fruits as the technology has now been moved from the lab to the clinic bedside.
The new program, which is available to students, is aimed to integrate the modern VR technology with traditional therapy techniques to diagnose students suffering from common mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression. In addition to that, this program is set to benefit students suffering from common phobias such as fear of heights (acrophobia) and fear of public speaking (glossophobia).
According to CAPS Director Monica Ng, traditional therapies have really worked to treat mental conditions such as anxiety and phobias. But with the integration of VR technology, treatment of mental health conditions is set to clinch to new levels as most students will make meaningful progress towards achieving mental health.
Although CAPS has made meaningful progress in spearheading Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT), this therapy will be offered on a limited basis in most college campuses due to lack of enough resources. In fact, Monica Ng mentioned that there’s only one headset available in the CAPS VR Lab though additional programs will be available soon after the launch.
Although this simulation program is set to address phobias and anxiety, it’s not for everyone. According to Monica Ng, students will have to discuss with their campus counselors to determine whether this is the right treatment for their mental conditions.
VRT will be available starting this semester and CU Boulder has partnered with several institutions such as the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and the Community and Behavioral Health Department in the Colorado School of Public Health to offer customized therapy programs by using wireless headsets.
So, what do you think about VR’s integration with traditional therapy techniques? Tell us your views in the comments section below.