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The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) awarded £4 million to enable state-of-the-art psychological therapy to be delivered via virtual reality (VR) in the NHS, in a project that brings together a team of NHS trusts, universities, a mental health charity, the Royal College of Art, and a University of Oxford spin-out company.

Image courtesy of Oxford VR

'Our project will see one of the most exciting and powerful new technologies implemented in the NHS for the first time” said the project lead, Professor Daniel Freeman from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry.

'Virtual reality treatment can help patients transform their lives. When people put on our headsets, a virtual coach takes them into computer-generated simulations of the situations they find troubling.

'The coach guides the patient through these scenarios, helping them practise techniques to overcome their difficulties. Patients often find it easier to do this work in the virtual world – and they enjoy using our VR applications – but the beauty is that the benefits transfer to the real world,' said Professor Freeman, who is also a clinical psychologist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Find out more (University of Oxford website)

Find out more (Department of Psychiatry website)

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