Oxford VR, one of the first companies to use virtual reality, announced today that its $12.5 million Series A funding round is over. This is the most significant investment in VR therapy in the UK and Europe.
This investment, which was led by Optum Ventures and helped by Luminous Ventures, will help VR therapy for depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems grow to the next level.
Oxford VR was started in 2017 by the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University. It is based on Professor Daniel Freeman’s 20 years of research into how VR could be used to make powerful, automated psychological treatments that would change the way people experience therapy.
The Lancet Psychiatry published the results of Oxford VR’s first clinical trial for people who are afraid of heights. The results show that automated VR therapy can help people in a big way. The results were much better than expected, and the best psychological help was given in person by a therapist. This groundbreaking trial also showed that automated VR therapy has the potential to change mental health care by helping overworked providers increase access and standardize clinical excellence, making sure that treatment protocols are followed.
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In VR therapy, people put on a headset and go into virtual reality simulations of the situations and places that make their symptoms worse. During treatment, people are given a variety of tasks that range in level of difficulty and are shown how to respond in a helpful way. People feel safe trying out new things in VR environments because they know they aren’t in any real danger.
The great thing about VR therapy is that changes in behavior made in the VR environment stay with the person when they go back to the real world. Plus, VR therapy is done automatically, so therapists can work on more important cases or other parts of care.
Every country in the world is seeing a rise in mental disorders, which will cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. One in four people in the world will have a mental or neurological illness at some point in their lives, according to the World Health Organization. About 450 million people have such conditions right now.
There are a lot of unmet needs in mental health care, like problems with access, bad outcomes, high costs, low patient engagement, and a lack of skilled clinicians. In fact, only 25% of people with mental health problems get help.
Virtual reality is a welcome addition to treatment, and the money that Oxford VR has received shows that the potential of immersive technology to help with the global mental health crisis has been recognized.
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