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Therapists Using VR To Treat Mental Health Issues

Mental health statistics always boggle my mind. In the US alone, 43M adults experience mental illness in a given year, 60% going untreated*. $193B annually is lost in earnings due to mental health issues and 12% of Americans take antidepressants daily**. All this yet there has not been a major drug breakthrough in the field for nearly 30 years and talk therapy remains inaccessible to most. These numbers represent an enormous opportunity for improvement.

There are over 300 peer-reviewed studies that show VR is an effective tool for treating mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction.

Limbix is building up immersive content that therapists can use to tackle phobias, depression and anxiety.

“After over a year of research and interviews, we have not only confirmed interest in VR but also learned there are opportunities for the technology to support therapy and patient care in other ways,” says Elise Ogle, a researcher who previously worked at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, designing experiences such as the highly acclaimed Becoming Homeless, before taking on her current role as Program Manager at Limbix earlier this year.

Patients in the VR therapy group will be exposed to scenarios ordered according to their own personal ‘fear hierarchy’ by working their way from what makes them least anxious, then gradually upping the tension to what makes them most anxious.

The two situations they initially designed were a job interview and a social gathering with strangers.

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