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Mental Therapy Goes Virtual

CUHK has rolled out the virtual reality (VR) mental health therapy programme Yes I Can in Asia in collaboration with AXA Hong Kong and Oxford VR. The pilot phase, which took place in early 2020, was a success with participants reporting improvement in their overall symptoms of depression (PHQ-9) and anxiety (GAD-7), less anxiety during social interactions, and being less impaired by symptoms of social avoidance.

Entering its second phase, the programme is now open for more participants. The research team will continue to examine how VR can help treat severe anxious social avoidance and investigate the impact of social distancing on mental health in Hong Kong under the pandemic.

Based on Oxford VR’s NHS-funded anxious social avoidance product gameChange, the Yes I Can programme is grounded in the methods of cognitive therapy. A virtual coach acting as the therapist will guide participants through a series of graded tasks in simulations of everyday situations they tend to avoid. By the end of the exercise, it is hoped that the participants will be able to transfer the skills they have acquired to the real life and have great confidence in the face of its challenges. For more information on the programme and to register, please follow this link.