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Virtual Reality Video Helps Young Ones Comprehend Anxiety Disorder

A new interactive video released by Touch Community Services harnesses virtual reality (VR) technology to let youngsters get a clearer understanding of anxiety disorder. The Virtual Reality Immersive Experience lets users select the path they want to go on, and they can make choices on behalf of Jane, a virtual character afflicted by an anxiety disorder.

The participants make choices that influence how different anxiety symptoms affect Jane. Players of this game also learn about the different symptoms and signs of anxiety. The video is a segment of the Do You M.I.N.D? program for mental wellness geared towards secondary-level students by Touch Youth Intervention.

Each of the VR Immersive Experiences run for 20 minutes along with instructions and can be enjoyed by 40 participants. In 2018, a video was launched on the topic of depression.

Desmond Lee, the Minister for Social and Family Development, tested out the Virtual Reality Immersive Experience whilst paying a visit to Touch Community Services. Mr. Lee, talking to the media following the session, remarked that the game’s character was facing stress from her parents, domestic violence, and family issues, all of which led to anxiety.

Acknowledging that mental well-being needed a multifaceted approach, Mr. Lee stated that helping to improve the mental well-being of a child is different from those being faced by the family, similar to what is observed in the virtual reality video.

Desmond Lee and James Tan trying out the VR experience. Image source: Straitstimes

The Touch Youth Intervention has collaborated with 26 schools at the secondary level for launching the VR Immersive Experience. It has dispersed mental health education to 3,848 students since the start. Touch’s survey revealed that 87 percent of the students expressed that their willingness and confidence to interact with mental health afflicted people went up after going through the program. The students could also pinpoint depression and anxiety symptoms. Counsellors at Touch report seeing an increasing number of mental health cases, including anxiety disorder, among people between the ages of 12 and 21.

Ms. Andrea Chan, the leader of Touch Intervention spoke to The Straits Times, revealing plans for launching two additional Immersive Experience videos this year. One of them will focus on self-harm whilst the other on eating disorders. Recently, Mr. Lee declared a program to campaign for the concepts and views on the mental well-being of young ones. Inputs from users can be submitted on the Reach web address. This is a follow up to the SG Youth Action Plan launched during last year’s May.

Mr. Lee expressed that his organisation is keen on lending its ear to the ideas, feedback, comments, and critique of participants, with the objective of seeing how collaborations can be instrumental for solidifying the environment and structure of mental well-being in Singapore.

The VR Immersive Experience was launched in last year’s October, at the ninth International Together Against Stigma Conference. DigitalMindset was also unveiled by Touch Community Services to support youth with mental health problems related to high levels of device use and gaming.

Want to know more about VR helping with mental disorders? Read our article how to treat certain mental disorders with VR.

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