We are investigating how virtual reality experiencies delivered on platforms like HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR can be used to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Virtual reality has already been used successfully to treat mental health conditions such as phobia. It may also be beneficial for young people suffering a broader set of conditions such as psychosis and depression. VR can provide compelling experiences that might increase youth engagement in treatment. New, high-quality yet affordable platforms are bringing VR within the reach of resource-strapped clinics.

Our project involves a range of activities such as designing therapeutic VR experiences, testing their effectiveness and acceptability, and exploring how VR can be incorporated into clinical practice.

We use the “participatory design” approach, bringing young people, clinicians and researchers together to design useful and usable technology. Design techniques for VR are not as well-established as those for “two-dimensional” screens, so one of our challenges is to find ways for participants to devise and represent 3D experiences.

Our multidisciplinary team based at the University of Melbourne, Australian Catholic University, and Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, has significant experience in designing Internet-based technologies to deliver mental health services.

The project received seed funding from the Melbourne Networked Society Institute to commence in 2017.

This work has now been taken up by the Orygen Virtual Worlds project, funded by an NHMRC Ideas Grant. 2021 – 2023.

Community Engagement

We’ve discussed our project via these public presentations and media articles: