Healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic can now use a virtual reality program to alleviate chronic stress.
Virtual reality usage has been on the rise throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It has provided countless hours of entertainment to those sheltering at home. Now, it is also aiding healthcare workers on the frontlines.
BehaVR is a VR company specializing in digital therapeutics for behavioral health. It worked alongside John Hopkins HealthCare Solutions to create and deliver a VR-based mindfulness and stress management program called CenteredVR.
Stress Management in Virtual Reality
It’s been over a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. To this day, countries all over the world are struggling to keep the virus at bay. While most of us have been forced to stay home during this crisis, healthcare workers are still serving on the frontlines.
Just last year, some researchers polled 1,132 healthcare workers from 25 medical centers in the US to gauge the early impacts of the pandemic. Their findings showed that nearly a quarter of the respondents showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. About 42.6% of the respondents showed potential alcohol use disorder. As the pandemic continues, our frontliners face an increased risk of adverse mental health issues.
BehaVR developed CenteredVR with Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions to help employers empower their workforce throughout these trying times. For instance, it has played an important role in Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian’s efforts to boost support for its COVID unit’s nursing staff. It alleviates the stress brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing chronic problems like hypertension from occurring. By integrating mindfulness practices into a personalized virtual space, it enables healthcare workers to develop stress resilience and coping skills.
In a CenteredVR kit, you get VR mindfulness-based experience. You have a control panel, noise-canceling headphones. You also get a Pico G2 VR headset and controller.
How Virtual Reality Promotes Stress Resilience
CenteredVR offers a personalized and dynamic virtual reality experience. Through the program, users can learn six progressive mindfulness practices. This includes a guided mindfulness-stress reduction meditation, led by Neda Gould, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University. It has exercises to strengthen emotional fitness, as well as exercises for exposure therapy.
All of these lessons are set in immersive environments that are carefully designed to make the user feel calm and relaxed.
The six mindfulness practices can help the user lower stress levels and build resiliency. As the lessons progress, the user learns how to manage the stressors that might come their way. They figure out how to respond to these stressors and prevent the most damaging effects of stress.
Moreover, users are able to track their progress after every session. The VR mindfulness and stress management program has a built-in Perceived Stress Scale, which shows the user’s stress levels from the first lesson to the sixth.
Some healthcare settings now use CenteredVR, along with other support services to help healthcare workers. However, employers from other industries can also use the VR mindfulness program to help their workforce cope during this pandemic. With a virtual reality headset, anyone can access CenteredVR.