Like many other industries, healthcare has begun implementing Web3 technologies to better serve those in need. Healthcare services now appear in the metaverse, specifically for those seeking mental healthcare.
Cointelegraph spoke with two executives from Innerword — a metaverse peer-to-peer mental health support group program — about how the metaverse can change the next generation of mental healthcare services.
Connectivity is a trait inherently built into virtual environments, as is the ability to connect with more anonymity via the use of avatars and usernames. Noah Robinson, the platform’s CEO and founder, said, in the mental healthcare scene, “this helps people open up more and be more vulnerable, which in turn leads to faster healing.”
He continued to say that unlike traditional therapy sessions, which are often limited in their access, metaverse-based sessions allow people access to “an entire community full of empathetic, caring people” available 24/7.
“Democratizing access looks like allowing people to access mental health help whenever they need it, however much they need.”
According to the Innerworld CEO, the platform underwent three years of clinical research, with over 20,000 hours in beta before its launch.
Innerworld’s chief strategy officer, Jewel — also known for her career as a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter — said her mental health journey began as a teenager and that she wonders what it’s like today for kids like her.
Jewel told Cointelegraph that as she began to look at virtual reality, she quickly realized that it could be used as a tool to provide peer-to-peer support, using methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Tools.
“The potential was great — we actually had a system that could scale that could deliver profound mental health intervention.”
Already other Web3 tools such as artificial intelligence, robots and blockchain have been said to be the building blocks of the next generation of healthcare. Now the connectivity and peer-to-peer promises of the metaverse add another layer of support for those in need.
Related: The ethics of the metaverse: Privacy, ownership and control
Jewel said this allows platforms like Innerworld to start proof scaling tools, which are typically only available in a clinician’s office, along with scaling mental health experts and activities.
“I believe it’s going to be the biggest disrupter in a positive way for the mental health space.“
According to data collected by Innerworld on user involvement in its metaverse-based support groups, users have experienced a “significant decrease in symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
In the academic sphere, professionals have said mental health support is a prime industry for decentralization.