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New BehaVR Partnership to Develop VR for Addressing Social Anxiety

BehaVR’s new partnership with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. has created a platform for bringing together experts in the domains of neuroscience, psychiatry, virtual reality and behavioural health to enhance treatment for people suffering from social anxiety.

Virtual reality development firm BehaVR, a company specialising in VR-based digital therapeutics and wellness experiences, has recently announced a new partnership. The company’s collaboration drive will focus on harnessing the power of virtual reality technology-based experiences for addressing the requirements of people facing social anxiety disorder (SAD), which is an undertreated mental health condition.

The firm has entered into a joint venture development and collaboration partnership agreement with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. The two companies are partnering to create a wellness offering that utilises virtual reality technology to assist in SAD management. BehaVR is collaborating with Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., a company that is a fully-owned, and also an indirect subsidiary of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma. It is developing the offering for a United States rollout.

BehaVR technology dives into social anxiety disorder. Source: unsplash

Dr Peter Buecker, Chief Medical Officer, BehaVR, said that many decades of research has pointed towards showing how VR is a potent tool for enhancing cognitive behavioural therapies. This includes arousal reduction, exposure, emotion regulation and active coping. All of these are methods used for treating social anxiety disorder. Buecker said that the company’s technology platform diversifies the capabilities of virtual reality technology, by incorporating machine learning and real-time biometrics to offer personalised experiences. He stated that using the technology offers fresher possibilities for treating SAD, and expressed that his team was enthusiastic about delving into the technology-based treatment prospects. He intends to offer a product that can potentially impact millions of SAD-afflicted individuals.

The Social Anxiety Association has stated that SAD is the third most widespread mental condition on a global level, highlighting that 7 per cent of the world’s population is affected by it. Upwards of 17 million individuals in the U.S. Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, refers to a constant fear faced by numerous individuals. They feel like they are constantly being judged by other people. SAD is also characterised by physical symptoms like sweating, nausea, rapid heart rate, trembling, sweating, nervousness around others and difficulty in speaking.

According to BehaVR CEO and Founder Aaron Gani, virtual reality technology can be useful for enhancing the accessibility of SAD care and management for individuals across the globe. Gani said that social anxiety disorder sufferers sometimes do not get the required support for handling their condition due to the dearth of behavioural professionals in their proximity. He also elaborated that many are also simply not able to afford treatment, or have faced problems with making treatment work in their favour.

The new development, based on behavioural health research and neuroscience, is an effort by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and BehaVR to utilise VR for effectively targeting the stress activation source. The offering will also help to make personalised content available to users, along with features such as behavioural reinforcements, coping skills training, and more.

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