Many people with psychosis find social situations difficult and consequently withdraw from everyday activities. Isolation and lack of activity mean that people often develop physical health problems and their mental health deteriorates. Currently only 5% of people with psychosis receive psychological therapy, and that therapy seldom directly addresses social withdrawal.  

This is an exciting new project on the use of immersive virtual reality (VR) therapy to enable people with psychosis to practice skills in a computer-simulated world to reduce problems in real life. This project, which won the 2017 National Institute for Health Research i4i Mental Health Challenge Award, is being led by Professor Daniel Freeman of Oxford University. We are partnering with him on this, alongside the McPin Foundation, the Royal College of Arts and Oxford VR.  

Designers, people with psychosis, and NHS staff will work together to ensure the best user experience and we will be consulting with stakeholders to produce a guide to using VR in NHS psychosis services. To test the effectiveness of VR therapy, a clinical trial across five sites will assess participants’ physical activity levels, symptoms, and quality of life before and after treatment. Working with our partners we will analyse the treatment cost-effectiveness and produce a commissioning case and implementation guide for the widespread NHS use of VR therapy. 

Our role in this project is to lead on the Implementation and NHS Adoption of VR technology workstream (Jen Martin, Sue Brown and Aislinn Bergin) and the Health Economics, Commissioning and Commercialisation workstream (Michael Craven and Aislinn Bergin).  

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Virtual benefits for the real world 

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