Mental health can be a tricky subject and in some countries difficult to combat due to long-held traditional stigma’s. AXA Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Oxford VR (OVR) are trying to overcome this in Asia by providing immersive therapy using virtual reality (VR).
The trio plan to create a clinically-validated trial in Hong Kong using VR to address common mental health issues, such as social avoidance, anxiety and depression. A variety of specially-designed scenarios will be developed for this pilot programme; offered in both English and Cantonese.
“AXA’s strategy is to transform from payer to partner to our customers,” said Gordon Watson, Chief Executive Officer of AXA Asia in a statement. “Our customers are telling us they want to have easier access to expertise and support for their mental wellbeing. We know the technology from Oxford VR works as it is already used in the UK National Health Service. AXA is proud to bring this technology to Hong Kong and Asia. Not only will we provide educational awareness on the topic and improve access to psychological services, but the partnership with CUHK will build the research evidence to advance care for common mental health conditions worldwide. This is a clear demonstration of our strategy coming to life by engaging professional stakeholders and offering innovative solutions to promote people’s wellbeing in Asia.”
“We are delighted to announce this partnership with AXA Hong Kong and CUHK as it marks an exciting breakthrough for mental wellbeing in Asia and builds on our shared vision of making effective new mental health solutions available. Ambitious action is required to tackle the growing gap between demand and supply in mental healthcare. This is a solution whose time has come and demonstrates our commitment to accelerate the adoption of evidence-based automated immersive therapy in mental healthcare by fostering relationships between academia and industry,” said Barnaby Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford VR.
The general public will be asked to participate in the trial which is expected to launch in June, being fully completed in 2020. As further details are released, VRFocus will keep you updated.