The use of VR training for mental health awareness is not a new concept. This technology has become a powerful tool that enhances the professional development and overall well-being of employees in the workplace.
With Mental Health Awareness Month serving as a crucial reminder of the importance of addressing mental health concerns, we once again go through the role immersive technologies play in promoting mental health awareness and providing support.
The Prevalence of Mental Health Issues
In the United States alone, approximately 50 million adults are experiencing a mental illness. But what’s more alarming is that over 55% of them receive no treatment. That’s 28 million individuals struggling with mental health issues on their own.
In the workplace, employees experiencing poor mental health are more likely to face absenteeism, lower job satisfaction, and burnout. The impact of these issues extends beyond individual employees, affecting overall productivity, morale, and employee retention within organizations. Fortunately, business leaders are now realizing the need to address mental health concerns in the workplace.
Harnessing Immersive Technologies for Mental Health Support
XR technologies, including VR training, have emerged as powerful tools for addressing mental health concerns and fostering a supportive workplace environment. Companies like Moth+Flame have been at the forefront, developing immersive training solutions that promote mental health in the workplace.
This month, they launched a Mental Wellness library to facilitate open conversations on mental health concerns. Through this library, individuals can engage in realistic scenarios, practice meaningful conversations, and acquire the necessary skills to provide appropriate support.
According to Kevin Cornish, founder and CEO of Moth+Flame, developing the library was a big commitment they made in support of mental health awareness. Their goal is to get more people comfortable with talking about mental health at work so that, ultimately, people know how to ask for help and how to offer help. “We believe that the more people who are trained on how to handle these conversations, the more people will ultimately get help,” says Cornish. “If one person gets the support they need by using this conversation and being prepared for a tough conversation, then we have succeeded.”
Collaborative Efforts in VR Training for Mental Health Awareness
Moth+Flame is not alone in recognizing the potential of XR technologies for mental health training. Several companies and organizations are utilizing VR to improve mental health awareness and support in the workplace.
PsyTechVR is also empowering organizations by giving them access to VR apps with guided meditations and art therapies that enhance mental wellness. The company, which launches new therapy content every two weeks, offers both self-guiding VR courses as well as courses with a specialist, where the doctor has access to user’s training in real-time and guides them through all the training.
Penumbra’s REAL Vision VR Wellness offers over 100 immersive experiences designed specifically for improving employee mental wellness. The company’s REAL i-Series is designed to offer VR-enabled tools for cognitive activation, distraction therapy, reminiscence therapy, mindfulness therapy, and relaxation therapy.
Collaborations among tech, health, and business sectors are paving the way for better VR experiences tailored to mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health for one has been funding research on virtual reality exposure therapy and other immersive applications.
The Impact of VR-Based Mental Health Training Programs
Although specific case studies on VR-based mental health training programs are still emerging, the potential impact is significant. Moth+Flame, for instance, partnered with the US Air Force to provide VR training specifically for suicide prevention, demonstrating the efficacy of immersive experiences in sensitive topics.
They have seen firsthand the transformative effect of VR in military suicide prevention training. By expanding access to these training programs and empowering more individuals to handle difficult conversations, the hope is that more people will feel comfortable seeking help and offering support.
Looking Ahead: Empowering a Supportive Work Environment
VR training for mental health awareness has the potential to revolutionize workplace well-being. As more organizations recognize the significance of addressing mental health concerns, the demand for immersive XR experiences will continue to grow.
As Mental Health Awareness Month highlights the importance of open dialogue, companies across various industries are embracing VR training as part of their mental health initiatives. By incorporating XR technologies into their employee development programs, organizations demonstrate a commitment to fostering a supportive work environment that prioritizes mental well-being.
It’s not just Moth+Flame, PsyTechVR, and Penumbra leading the way in utilizing XR technologies for mental health support. Other companies have also recognized the value of immersive experiences in promoting mental health awareness. From mindfulness apps to virtual therapy sessions, the potential applications of XR in mental health care are vast. Collaborative initiatives between industry leaders and mental health professionals further amplify the impact of XR in promoting mental health awareness.