Adriaan Louw Discusses the Power of Virtual Reality in Fierce Healthcare
Reimagining Mental Health Care Via the Neurological Power of Virtual Reality
While the physical toll of COVID-19 dominates headlines, the pandemic’s impact on global mental health is an underreported, ticking time bomb that providers and insurers will be defusing for years to come. Anxiety rates have tripled since 2019; so too have depression diagnoses. Mental health professionals are stretched thinner than ER-workers, but there is no vaccine that they can inject into arms to slow the spread of COVID-related mental illness. Something has to change. As the Delta variant exacerbates uncertainty around physical presence, and employers struggle to welcome back workers who must transition their professional and personal lives to the latest version of “normal,” our health care system would be acting neglectfully in believing the status quo can handle:
- – Prolonged levels of stress and anxiety causing a secondary pandemic health crisis due to mental and physical consequences of COVID;
- – Pregnant women facing triple the rate of anxiety and depression;
- – Overall rates of burnout and disengagement of physicians and nurses that will cause a disruptive force for hospitals and health systems in the next three years.
Where Is the Solution?
Crises give rise to innovation. They create moments where mindsets open to new ways of solving critical problems. Unlikely teams form and new ideas are born. At BehaVR, we have created a way to utilize virtual reality, known by most as a transformative gaming technology, to transform how mental health care is delivered. By bringing together foremost thinkers in digital health, neuroscience, bio-pharma, health systems, public health, and academia, we are harnessing the unique neurological power of VR to supplement and scale mental health delivery. In June of 2021 research published in Nature Neuroscience described how VR can impact the brain on a deep level, impacting theta rhythms responsible for memories and emotions, helping to sharpen cognition and learn faster. Scientific breakthroughs like this, layered on to a body of research growing every day, will enable us to help millions build short-term coping skills and long-term resiliency.
We can deliver quality care to more people at lower cost via VR programs that work via neuroplasticity in the brain to lay down new neural pathways that transform how we respond to triggers, stressors and trauma. In BehaVR’s programs, we are transported into an immersive environment where we are engaged with learning and therapeutic experiences that lead us out of the chronic activation of our stress response and toward finding new ways to manage our stress, anxiety and fear.