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13th ACM SIGCHI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems, EICS 2021 ; : 6-11, 2021.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1280489


Mental health conditions pose a major challenge for individuals, healthcare systems and society-and the COVID-19 pandemic has likely worsened this issue. According to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, one in five people will develop a serious mood disorder, including depression, at some time in their life. Co-designed solutions to increase resilience and well-being in young people have specifically been recognised as part of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy and the New Zealand Health Strategy. Virtual Reality (VR) in mental health is an innovative field. Recent studies support the use of VR technology in the treatment of anxiety, phobia, and pain management. However, there is little research on using VR for supporting, treating and preventing depression. There is also very little work done in offering an individualised VR experience to improve mental health. In our earlier work, we presented iVR, a novel individualised VR experience for enhancing peoples' self-compassion, and in the long run, their mental health, and described its design and architecture. In this paper, we outline the results of a feasibility study conducted recently. Most participants believed introducing elements of choice within iVR enhanced their user experience and that iVR had the potential to enhance people's self-compassion. We also approached seven mental health professionals for feedback, who felt that introducing elements of choice within iVR would increase their knowledge of clients. Our contribution can pave the way for large-scale efficacy testing, clinical use, and cost-effective delivery of intelligent individualised VR technology for mental health therapy in future. © 2021 ACM.