TietoEVRY Oyj: virtual reality psychotherapy tests to improve accessibility to mental health services

The development of a virtual therapy laboratory in cooperation with the Center for Psychotherapy for Adolescents and Young People in Latvia is thanks to a couple of lucky coincidences and our common mission to support young people.

In April, TietoEVRY country manager in Latvia, Valery Varna He met a well-known psychologist Nils Sakss Konstantinovs during a radio interview about online harassment. The couple realized that together they could help young people a lot in these difficult times, so the idea of ​​a virtual psychotherapy lab was born.

A couple of weeks later, TietoEVRY and the Latvian Adolescent and Youth Psychotherapy Center signed a memorandum on the establishment of a virtual therapy laboratory. The aim is to provide highly qualified and evidence-based mental health support for children and adolescents in Latvia.

Combining experience for a good cause

“We gathered experience from several different countries and diverse technical and psychological backgrounds,” says Valērija. “The virtual therapy laboratory is currently being developed in close cooperation between experts from our Latvian office and the augmented reality team in the Nordic countries, with the contribution of the psychotherapy center for adolescents and young people.”

The Virtual Therapy Laboratory is designed to support the mental health of adolescents and young people with the help of state-of-the-art technologies. Because physical distance, national restrictions, and the risk of infections during the pandemic must be considered, the pilot project will focus on providing remote support to develop important emotion control skills.

“At TietoEVRY, we believe that technologies should add value to society. This successful collaboration between mental health professionals and information technology experts from Latvia and Finland will greatly benefit children, adolescents and their families. The virtual therapy laboratory is the first step in making these innovations and services more accessible to people and our future ambition is for this method of therapy to be accessible in other regions as well, ”says Valērija.

Technologically mediated well-being is gaining strength

In recent years, TietoEVRY’s Augmented Reality (XR) team has been involved in an innovation ecosystem project funded by the Finnish national funding agency, Business Finland. The project has focused on the mental well-being of people involved in expert work, with the aim of identifying the benefits of using digital technology to measure stress levels and reduce or prevent stress. Our team developed a range of virtual and augmented reality solutions to explore the effect of immersive experiences on employee productivity.

‘Immersive technology is the ultimate tool to empower people and improve their well-being and performance. By training in virtual reality, we aim to maintain a state of concentration and calm without using any technology, making users more resilient in any situation, ‘he says. Ksenia Avetisova, Head of XR at TietoEVRY.

The experience gained during the Finnish project laid the groundwork for creating a strong concept for the multi-user virtual therapy laboratory in Latvia. The technology is relatively new and requires careful consideration of the pros and cons. In June, under the close supervision of mental health professionals, TietoEVRY launched a clinical study designed specifically to assess cases of use of psychotherapy in the laboratory.

The pandemic has greatly increased the need for therapy

Last year it provided evidence of accelerated digital advancement in many areas of life and business. Not in vain, we have focused our attention on cases that require more connection and human presence, such as mental health and well-being.

‘With the best professionals in this area, we are working on creating a virtual therapy environment that is comfortable, secure and easily accessible from different geographical locations. Virtual reality technology provides an unparalleled opportunity to reach the exact target audience of young adults and deliver the experience with a positive impact. Our diverse team of experts approaches the initiative with a wide range of skills, an open mind and from the point of view of users, ”says Ksenia.

The goal is to gather evidence on the desired characteristics and build a tool flexible enough to meet the changing needs of professionals and patients.

The advantages of using virtual therapy

Nils points out the benefits of using virtual therapy: “This is an understandable and interesting method for children. It is being used more and more around the world to help reduce the risk of addiction to computers and cell phones. concentration, signs of stress and aggression, as well as other common mental health disorders in children and young people ”.

According to a study by the Center for Psychotherapy for Adolescents and Youth, mental health has deteriorated during Covid-19. 74% of young respondents say they experience difficulties in the areas of learning, depression, intrusive thoughts and irritability, as well as excessive use of computers and social media.

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