A mental health organisation is turning to technology to help people understand the reality of living with mental illness. The initiative uses VR headsets to help tell the stories of people who have recovered from specific mental health problems.
Photo: (Samuel Zeller via unsplash.com) Changing Minds uses virtual reality to tell a dozen people’s stories of their recovery from particular symptoms of mental health illnesses.

Chief executive Taimi Allan said the stories were edited down to five-minute scripts and actors telling the stories gave an added level of anonymity. The prototype, created in August, featured a Māori man who had experienced psychosis.

“He talks about his whole life and you put on the headsets and you’re totally immersed in his world. “It’s just like sitting down with him at a cafe, you can reach out and you can almost touch him and you can converse with him and talk to him and find out more about his entire life than just the experiences of mental distress,” she said.

She said people were less likely to discriminate if they got to know someone as a whole person, not just by their diagnosis. Changing Minds chief executive Taimi Allan
Photo: Supplied “The idea is that you get to know this guy – as a family man, as an artist, as everything – but he’s also able to explain what it’s like to experience psychosis and get over it.

“So that you get over those myths that they’re dangerous people or that there’s violence associated or any of those sorts of things, and you get to understand more of the experience.” She said the beauty of virtual reality was the environment can change, so as he talked about nature being healing, the environment around the viewer changed from a rainforest to a beach. Read more from radionz.co.nz…

thumbnail courtesy of radionz.co.nz