Virtual reality

Virtual reality

Orygen Digital’s work in youth mental health research, early intervention and clinical care is revealing the potential of virtual reality (VR) to help young people struggling with mental health challenges.

Our world-first research uses the latest innovative VR technologies to bridge the gap between the real world and the clinician’s room to help young people feel empowered to better manage their mental health.

In our state-of-the art VR lab we are designing, building, testing and delivering new interventions for young people that are safe, effective and fit-for-purpose.

Our multi-disciplinary team of mental health clinicians and researchers, VR designers and developers and young people with lived experience of mental ill-health are focused on three key areas:

  1. Orygen Virtual Worlds (OVW): this next generation of telehealth technology will increase the reach of youth mental health services. We are building and testing a world-first, purpose-built prototype virtual world platform that creates virtual environments where young people meet and interact with each other via an avatar. These virtual worlds will deliver remote youth mental health care to more young people in a user-friendly and relevant way.
  2. MIND: this immersive suite of VR tool uses gamified, interactive elements to support young people with depression and anxiety. They’re guided to learn and practice therapeutic skills that help them manage distressing thoughts and emotions. Using VR, MIND takes young people into their own 3D virtual minds where they watch, challenge and change their thoughts and emotions in a non-threatening environment.
  3. VR Psychosis Training Ground: this treatment focuses on improving symptoms and how young people with early psychosis function day-to-day. Using a range of VR environments that resonate with young people, this ‘virtual training ground’ helps them learn skills to manage symptoms and function better. Young people learn how to adapt to triggers and use coping strategies in a safe VR world that then gives them confidence to take what they’ve learned into the real world.

On one end we’re developing virtual worlds – computer-based programs that allow you to experience a setting with an avatar and other people. On the other end, we’re doing research using head mounted displays that puts young people into safe and reproducible situations where they can practice skills and they can learn and do therapeutic skill training within that environment.

Prof. Andrew Thompson, head of VR at Orygen

The continuation of this vital work is dependent on the support of donors and partners who share Orygen Digital’s belief in the very real potential of VR to support youth mental health.

With support from partners, we can continue this vital area of research so that our cutting-edge VR treatments and services can continue to be developed, tested and delivered to the many young people who need our help.

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