scorecardMetaverse for mental healthcare? Experts ‘cautiously optimistic’ after WEF report
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Metaverse for mental healthcare? Experts ‘cautiously optimistic’ after WEF report

Metaverse for mental healthcare? Experts ‘cautiously optimistic’ after WEF report
Tech2 min read
  • Metaverse can help as a solution for a mental health crisis, says the latest World Economic Forum report.
  • Tech-driven mental health infrastructure in the metaverse could play a crucial role.
  • Experts are cautiously optimistic about the metaverse's potential for mental health.
A World Economic Forum report released on Monday, June 26, has said that metaverse as a technology may be a solution to tackling the growing need to combat mental health related issues globally. How important the issue can be fathomed by this – the Surgeon General of the United States has declared a war on what he identifies as one of the nation's most critical public health concerns: excessive screen time and social media usage.

A groundbreaking solution may lie in virtual shared spaces, commonly referred to as the metaverse, as per WEF. These digital environments enable people to interact professionally and socially, potentially combatting the escalating mental health crisis rather than contributing to it. The metaverse may encompass augmented or virtual reality technologies, enhancing the level of immersion and offering new possibilities for connection and engagement.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health crisis was on the rise, but the current situation has exacerbated the problem to unprecedented levels. The surge in demand for mental health services has outpaced the available resources, making the need for innovative solutions more urgent than ever before. In response, the United States is considering a federal reimbursement opportunity for tele-mental health services to address the shortage of mental health providers.

Role of technology-driven mental health infrastructure
Psychiatrists as well as tech experts suggest that a technology-driven infrastructure centred around mental health could play a crucial role in prevention, diagnostics, therapy, education, and research. Gaming platforms have already demonstrated their potential in mental health treatment, increasing patient engagement and destigmatizing mental health issues.

Several organisations, such as DeepWell Therapeutics and Ninja Theory's Insight Project, have developed video games that target depression and anxiety. Mindful Metaverse by TRIPP utilises virtual reality-enabled guided mindfulness and meditation techniques to enhance well-being.

Advancements in interface technologies are also poised to revolutionise social and emotional connections in virtual environments. Devices like Emerge Wave 1 utilise ultrasonic waves to simulate touch, enhancing the social experience of distant participants. Additionally, noninvasive neurotechnologies, such as Neurable headsets, can measure a user's emotional state and provide tailored feedback. These technologies could eventually integrate with therapeutic neurotechnologies, including direct brain stimulation, to treat severe depression.

By leveraging the metaverse to address the full continuum of mental healthcare needs, experts believe that both patients and the development of the virtual space could benefit greatly. Grounding the metaverse in a practical and essential application like mental health care has the potential to drive its emergence and widespread adoption.

As the Surgeon General's call to action gains attention, the world eagerly anticipates the exploration of the metaverse as a promising solution to the pressing mental health crisis.

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