6 Mental Health Issues That VR Technology Already Helps With

smiling woman wearing vr headset

Virtual Reality (VR) transfers you to different digital worlds, each a landscape for a specific purpose, be it a game or a task. Healthcare also uses technology to treat patients, train staff, and manage day-to-day tasks.

Virtual reality particularly benefits psychology. It allows people living with mental health issues to practice coping skills in different situations, while improving their mood through fun or productive activities.

Here are the key mental health areas where VR technology is making a difference.

1. Psychosis

Studies over the past few years confirm that virtual reality is helpful in treating various forms of psychosis. In 2020, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a review of it and revealed some interesting findings.

For example, one study used 30 patients with persecutory delusions to compare the effectiveness of virtual reality direct exposure therapy (VRET) versus virtual reality exposure with cognitive behavioral therapy ( VRCBT).

The latter worked better in reducing delusions and helping patients maintain this stability in real life.

Plenty of research like this confirms that immersing patients in realistic yet safe scenarios can help doctors assess them through the VR experience and headset, while alleviating symptoms at the same time.


As headsets and software like gameChange improve in comfort and therapy processes, it won’t be long before healthcare systems fully embrace VR therapy for psychosis.

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But how does virtual reality improve mental health? Treating PTSD with virtual reality, for example, involves creating a simulation for a patient to repeatedly experiment and learn to manage while the doctor monitors each session.

The growing interest in including VR technology in treatments stems from a series of trials and studies that have tested VR exposure therapy as an effective tool in the field of health.

A team reviewed experiments conducted up to 2019 that evaluated the effectiveness of VRET. They published their findings in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology.

When it comes to PTSD, results from 122 participants showed that virtual reality treatment worked better than control groups in reducing symptom severity.

3. Anxiety

The focus on anxiety and the effectiveness of virtual reality in its treatment has also yielded positive results.

A 2021 review of 34 studies published in JMIR Mental Health found that virtual reality can very well support cognitive behavioral therapy when treating anxiety, as well as depression.

Whether treatment takes place alongside VRET or in a virtual environment, the technology allows patients to cope and reduce their anxiety in a place they know is safe.

As already mentioned, exposure therapy in conjunction with virtual reality also allows the patient to repeat the experience if necessary. With software like Ovrcome, doctors can choose simulations, tailor treatments, and take a close look at their clients’ responses.

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4. Phobias

There are plenty of apps that can help you overcome your fear of rejection or master the dreaded art of public speaking. Phobias, however, can be more complex.

A phobia is a common type of anxiety that can take many forms. Resolving it takes courage and a process that exposes you to your fear and lessens its impact on you.

Virtual reality software like Freethink is already helping, especially when paired with cognitive behavioral therapy. The Center for the Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders lists the main benefits of using this specialized treatment.

Basically, VR exposure therapy lets you challenge yourself from the safety of a doctor’s office while your mind is in an elevator, driving on a busy highway, or in a forest observing snakes.

Although the immersive nature of virtual simulations can always trigger patients, they have the chance to overcome one challenge after another. This builds confidence and strength to break through the debilitating effect of their fears.

A reliable therapist with high-quality software at their fingertips can shape every experience to help people overcome their phobias, but they can also pull the plug if a simulation becomes overwhelming.

5. Depression

Immersion in virtual reality is what sets it apart from normal therapy for mental health issues.

When it comes to depression, it works especially well because it transports patients into environments that are fun, uplifting, or just uplifting. That said, some restraint is important.

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A 2019 article published in Front Psychiatry explained how virtual reality could effectively integrate cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques for depression.

Its researchers have suggested a combination of low-impact virtual experiences, physical activity and behavioral activation methods, which encourage engagement with the real world, without isolation in a digital world.

As the use of virtual reality in such treatments increases, the number of virtual reality applications for meditation, for example, is also increasing. These types of programs provide calming or pleasantly stimulating experiences that can distract you from your worries.

At the same time, companies like The Glimpse Group are applying their VR technology to therapy and remote assistance. In other words, the base is there, so completely merging virtual reality with depression therapy wouldn’t be a big step forward.

6. Dependency

Addiction is often linked to anxiety and depression, creating a vicious circle of triggers. Virtual reality-based therapy can reduce their negative influence and teach you methods to stay calm and confident when cravings arise.

The technology is already being used as an experimental treatment at Recovery Centers of America. He attempts to alleviate anxiety alongside addiction by tailoring virtual environments to each patient’s needs and teaching them ways to deal with stressors in real life.

The immersive nature of the experience makes it highly engaging as the patient completes tasks and practices self-soothing techniques, such as meditation and breath control. Ultimately, the patient should be able to regulate their own emotions and resist triggers.

Although it continues to evolve as a form of mental health treatment, virtual reality is already proving to be a valuable tool in reducing addiction, as well as many of its associated stressors.

Learn more about the place of VR technology in healthcare

Thanks to the innovation of virtual reality, patients and professionals have a safe and productive work environment. As evidence of technology’s usefulness in mental health treatment grows, more and more medical organizations will embrace it.

But processing isn’t the only thing VR is good for. Find out how technology is benefiting other areas of healthcare, from doctor-patient interaction to surgical training.

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9 Ways Virtual Reality (VR) Is Improving Healthcare Right Now

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