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West Bengal Doctors Use Virtual Reality to Treat Phobia—First of Its Kind Clinic in Eastern India

West Bengal Doctors Use Virtual Reality to Treat Phobia—First of Its Kind Clinic in Eastern India
Suppose you are scared of heights. You are asked to walk on a wooden plank hanging from the 20th floor of a high-rise. You need to walk up to the edge of the protruding plank. Your head reels, you feel sick inside as you take a few steps ahead. You are told to slowly come back inside. That is all for the day. The next day, you will be asked to walk a few steps more, and eventually, the process will help you overcome your acrophobia, that is fear of heights. The dread and anxiety you feel during the process are all real. But the catch is that it is all simulated within the four walls of a doctor’s chamber.

Yes, you heard it right. Sahayata Clinic, a newly opened doctor’s clinic in Salt Lake’s BD Block is now employing virtual reality to treat patients suffering from a different kind of phobia. The clinic involves a number of psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, and special educators to address a range of mental health issues. And they are using VR technology-aided simulations of stress-inducing scenarios for treating patients.

Suraksha Diagnostic

The clinic was inaugurated by popular actor Ritabhari Chakraborty. It is situated on the second and third floors of the same building in Salt Lake that houses Suraksha Diagnostic.

Syed Naiyer Ali, a reputed psychiatrist who, along with doctors Tathagata Chatterjee and Debashis Sanyal, has founded the clinic stated that the facility is established with the aim of addressing the issues of depression and anxiety, which is significantly on the rise in today’s urban environment. He said that their goal is to provide mental healthcare and normalizing it like any other healthcare. In this regard, they also strive to reduce the social stigma attached to mental illness and encourage people to reach out for help.

First-ever center.

The clinic claims to be the first-ever center of mental healthcare that uses VR technology for treating patients. The virtual environments have been reportedly created through panoramic videos and images that will provide the patients with realistic sensations.

West Bengal Doctors Use Virtual Reality to Treat Phobia—First of Its Kind Clinic in Eastern India

During the inauguration, the clinic demonstrated their VR module for acrophobia. There are approximately 15 more modules for different phobias and disorders. The technology is reportedly procured from Barcelona.

VR for treating phobias

Tathagata Chatterjee, the co-founder and managing director of Sahayata clinic told the press that VR technology for treating phobias is still at its nascent stage. Doctors are teaming up with engineers to build advanced modules to treat patients worldwide. Currently, only about 10 organizations are using the technology and it has been used commercially for three years at best.

Sahayata clinic also offers to counsel to couples, children, adolescents, and corporates, as well as provides geriatric and career counselling.

Reach out

Ritabhari Chakraborty, the popular actor in the Bengali movie and television industry also generously lauded the endeavour as she inaugurated it. She said that at this age, people should not feel insecure or hesitant to seek help for mental illnesses anymore. If someone feels like they need support, they should reach out for professional help rather than suffering in silence.

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