Mindset to address mental health using latest digital technology

Cropped shot of a young man wearing a vr headset while sitting in session with his female therapist

New immersive digital therapeutic solutions to address mental health issues receive a £3m boost as the first projects of their kind funded by Innovate UK.

The funded projects will use a range of immersive technology such as extended and virtual reality (XR and VR) using headsets, remote touch, music and sounds, and mobile gaming.

The projects will support conditions such as:

  • bipolar disorder
  • psychosis
  • autism
  • dementia
  • anxiety

Projects include:

  • Wales-based Rescape, a programme providing pain management via VR for inpatients and outpatients, which has recently signed its 100th NHS customer. The aim of this project is to explore how music content and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create a personalised VR solution for people experiencing symptoms of anxiety and build mental resilience
  • XR Therapeutics, based in the north-east, which is now providing services to three NHS trusts, and expanding application content to neuroatypical adults and children. The project involves using VR headsets to help children with autism or phobias
  • SyncVR, based in London, also has a global footprint. It will create the world’s first mood management application to be used on VR headsets for supporting high risk patients waiting for mental healthcare

Improving mental health services

Mental health problems of some kind will be experienced by one in four people each year in the UK while only one in eight adults with a mental health problem are currently getting any kind of treatment.

Over the first two years of COVID-19 the percentage of people reporting at least one severe problem has doubled.

Delivering therapies via VR can achieve outcomes two to three times faster than traditional treatments, can cut wait times, improve access to services, and reduce the severity of symptoms.

The Mindset programme

The first 29 projects in Innovate UK’s Mindset programme seek to address current mental health needs across all ages in the UK by stimulating the development of immersive digital mental health therapeutic innovations.

The Mindset programme, with a total budget of £20 million, aims to grow the UK’s nascent immersive digital mental health sector by investing in projects which deliver immersive digital mental health therapeutics. It will also create a supportive ecosystem which will help companies bring these innovations to market.

Transforming mental health care

George MacGinnis, UK Research and Innovation Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, at Innovate UK said:

A warm welcome to the innovators who have won grants in our first call to develop immersive mental health therapeutics. As we see demand for mental health support outstrip the capacity of health services around the world, solutions using immersive technologies could transform the way care is provided.

These new tools provide clinicians the ability to deliver a more engaging experience, improve access to care and enable those clinicians to see and treat more patients effectively. The UK has a huge talent devoted to developing immersive digital experiences and applying this to create novel solutions for mental health could be a real game-changer.

Further information

Mindset projects

Mediprospectsai Limited

Project: NeuroXRFitness, a game-changing AI-enabled and gamified XR technology for digital mental health using music therapy.

Good With Limited

Project: XR cognitive defusion experience building financial wellbeing in young adults.

Neuhealth Ltd

Project: M-Fit, improving the wellbeing and mental fitness of people and productivity of companies.

Scenegraph Studios Ltd

Project: SpiritVR, a VR application to aid with mental health and wellbeing.

Zecora Ura Theatre

Project: Within Touching distance, scaling empathy through patient-centred affective touch.

I2 Media Research Limited

Project: WAVE, designing and testing ways to help people to manage cognitive, emotional and physical anxiety symptoms.

Recreo VR Ltd

Project: the application of VR to tackle mental health issues and improve wellbeing within elderly care.

Vision 3 Ltd

Project: TheraVR, a closed-loop mixed reality interface offering highly personalised mental health solutions.

Animorph Ltd

Project: Staying Well XR, a wearable VR software allowing service users to explore their ‘relapse signatures’ and coping strategies with and without a therapist.

Brainspark Games Ltd

Project: NeuroWellbeing Immersive Tech, AI-enabled, augmented reality (AR), 3D open world, immersive educational mobile games.

Elucidare Limited

Project: Spatial Audio for Managing Mental Illness, for the detection, tracking and isolation of sound sources with no prior knowledge of their presence, number or location.

Blying Limited

Project: an AI based platform delivering group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in the metaverse.

Squidsoup Limited

Project: the implementation of the mixed reality submergence technology as a complimentary therapeutic mental healthcare solution.

Get Cerebral Limited

Project: The Sandbox, VR internet-based CBT for children and young people in south Staffordshire.

Virtualspeech Ltd

Project: overcoming social anxiety through immersion in VR.

Chaotic Order Ltd

Project: Hark, a VR based interactive narrative game and meditation app hybrid to help manage digital addiction in young people.

Tycho Medlink Limited

Project: a VR software for people with seasonal affective disorders to improve their quality of life.

Play Well for Life Ltd

Project: using AR and AI-driven analytics to personalise wellbeing content in a social board game context.

XR Therapeutics Limited

Project: a new VR platform for accessible treatment of phobias and anxiety.

Cineon Training Limited

Project: Improving Service Access using Virtual Exposure (iSAVE)

We are Anagram Limited

Project: Inside Mental Health, an immersive training tool for staff and clinicians that represents the experience of mental health issues in a way which has shown to have an impact on their empathy to patients.

Syncvr Medical UK Ltd

Project: a VR application to aid self-management of people awaiting treatment for mental health conditions or symptoms.

Rescape Innovation Limited

Project: VR-MELODY, utilising music and AI to advance DR.VR(TM) and co-create a personalised VR solution to reduce anxiety and build mental resilience in adults.

Oxford Dynamics Limited

Project: Empathy-XR, an immersive AI-based tool for mental health wellbeing.

Phase Space Ltd

Project: VR hypnotherapy as an early intervention for anxiety in students and young people.

Insideout 25 Limited

Project: InsideOut XR, using AR and VR for psychoeducation and mindfulness-based intervention self-help tools.

Pixelmill Ltd

Project: Planet WellBeing, using extended reality to improve mental health and reduce loneliness.

Care Reality Limited

Project: Virtual Choirs in Care Homes, a networked XR therapeutic singing intervention to improve mental health.

Cocoon Wellbeing Limited

Project: Mentis, building an AR or VR digital service delivered through a smartphone that incorporates state-of-the-art cognitive-behavioural science and neuroscience.

Top image:  Credit: Kobus Louw, E+ via Getty Images

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