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Saturday, July 20, 2024

BREATHE THERAPIES IS FIRST TO IMPLEMENT VR TECHNOLOGY TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH

Breathe Therapies, a Preston-based not for profit organisation, has invested in new technologies to aid clients in their recovery and wellbeing. They are the first organisation in the North West to implement and utilise Virtual Reality (VR) technology into their treatment and therapy for those suffering from mental health, eating disorders, obesity and wellbeing. The launch coincides with World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2020 run by the World Health Organisation with the theme ‘mental health for all’ this year.

This investment not only ensures all treatment is now accessible during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has also been proven that patients treated with VR therapy require 33% fewer sessions; meaning that the recovery time and process could be much more effective for anyone suffering from various conditions.

The technology means that the ground-breaking organisation can now reach people across the UK so they can support and treat more of those in need, particularly with eating disorders and mental health issues which have both been increasing significantly due to the current crisis sweeping the country.

Shelley Perry, Clinical Director of Breathe Therapies said: “Working together with their therapist, patients will navigate through digitally created environments and complete specially designed tasks tailored to treat a specific ailment or issue. The technology used can range from a simple PC and keyboard setup, to a modern virtual reality headset and this is really breaking new boundaries for us as a treatment provider.”

A substantial amount of research has been conducted into the success of virtual reality therapy, with 2017 paper showing that both statistically and clinically meaningful reductions in PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms occurred after including virtual reality in treatments.

VR can be used as a form of therapy to treat a multitude of things, including eating disorders, phobias, general wellbeing and mental health issues such as anxiety, social anxiety and depression. VR Therapy is used widely as an alternative to exposure therapy, which is a common therapy technique that involves exposing the patient/client to the source of their anxiety or its context without the risk of any physical danger. This has been proven to aid the effectiveness of overcoming anxiety triggered by a situation or object. It has also proven to be especially effective at treating PTSD, body dysmorphia and improving social skills of those who have been diagnosed with autism.

Shelley added: “The digital environment that is created by the therapists and clinicians will be designed in accordance with what the client’s diagnosis is. It will then be experienced by the client through the use of the headset, and will provide them an environment that is safe, where they can face and accept their fear or diagnosis.”

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