Trust taking part in VR initiative

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A North East mental health trust is involved in a pioneering virtual reality (VR) initiative.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust (NTW) has been chosen to take part in the ground-breaking study for people with psychosis.

It is part of a £4million National Institute of Health Research project to make virtual reality treatments available in NHS mental health services.

The initiative, which will be led by research and health experts in Oxford, will bring together a team of NHS Trusts, universities, a mental health charity and the Royal College of Art. It will start next year.

The therapy study involves wearing a headset and interacting with computer generated people whilst a virtual coach guides the user through their thoughts, feelings and responses in social situations.

The idea is that practising skills in a computer-simulated world will reduce anxiety and paranoia and improve engagement in every-day activities.

Dr Robert Dudley, who will be involved in the study on behalf of NTW, said: “This technology will radically improve treatment for psychosis and because the treatment is automated, many more patients will have access to effective psychological treatment.

“The cost of this VR therapy is a fraction of that for standard therapies, so the potential to cut overall treatment costs by improving health and reducing time spent in hospital is a big incentive.”

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