Virtual worlds, such as Second Life, are online collaboration platforms that simulate a 3-dimensional space. Users are embodied as avatars, giving them control over the appearance they project and their actions. Evidence has shown that virtual world platforms can be engaging, accessible spaces where genuine therapy can take place.
Members from the HCI group are working with members of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Youth Mental Health and youth mental health institute Orygen on the Orygen Virtual World project, which aims to develop and test a standalone, purpose built virtual world to provide a platform for the delivery of treatment to young people with mental health issues. Deployment of this platform can increase engagement and provide therapy to isolated and disadvantaged mental health patient groups.
We are contributing to the co-design of this virtual world alongside young people, psychologists/psychiatrists, and virtual world developers, capitalising on our consortium's expertise in digital mental health, human-computer interaction, user-centred design, and creative arts. The team will develop proof of concept evidence for the delivery of therapeutic interventions via the online platform by examining feasibility, acceptability, and clinical outcome estimates. Should the interventions be acceptable and feasible the virtual world could be deployed as a vehicle to provide evidence-based interventions to young people, a major advancement of digital therapy.
Orygen Virtual World Project: bringing to life a new age of digitally enhanced youth mental health services. NHMRC Ideas Grant. 2021 – 2023.
- Dr Simon D’Alfonso, School of Computing and Information Systems
- Dr Greg Wadley, School of Computing and Information Systems
- Dr Imogen Bell, Centre for Youth Mental Health
- Prof Andrew Thompson, Centre for Youth Mental Health