Virtual reality: a solution for work-related stress?

This technology could become a key tool for a better balance between work and life

Virtual reality: a solution for work-related stress?

The union between new technologies and psychology is now a reality. The technology of virtual reality (VR) was previously only used by psychotherapists to treat patients, but now it sells to corporate departments of human resources as a tool to combat stress and the pressure in the workplace.

Virtual reality has been applied to psychological treatments for more than 20 years. It began in the surroundings of the laboratories of research in universities, but in recent years, adding the good results and the ease of access to this type of technology, development has been continuing the application of virtual reality to the psychology, therefore it allows to work in real time; i.e., generated the same reactions and emotions that the patient suffers from facing your fear, monitored by the psychologist.

Psious is a good example of a company that applies the VR to mental health in the treatment of phobias and anxiety. During the Thinking Party 2017 held in Madrid the directors of the company mentioned that it is not about "fool the brain with virtual reality, but yes to train him in a context that is not the reality we know, but it is the closest thing, and work in a secure environment". The treatment is gradual, gradually exposing the patient to the causes that trigger uneasiness and monitoring its reaction to the next steps.

Spanish companies have begun to innovate in this field and with the participation of the technology company Psious it develops ways to use virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) to help mental health and problems of behaviors from phobias to anxiety disorders.

Specifically, it consists of an application that includes information on self-help and offers guidance based on cognitive-behavioral therapy. It also helps users to assess his state of mind, in what they want to work that day and to establish long-term goals. In general, it is a great help to improve the happiness and prospects, as well as introduce a better balance between work and life.

Xavier Palomer, executive director of the company and creator of the application, has narrated that "they initially launched Psious to provide an exposure therapy". I.e., using AR to show spiders to someone who is afraid of them without having to show them in real or rely on the imagination. However, after several years since it occurred to him the idea of launching the business, Palomer explained that "now it can be used to help people to calm their nerves, relax and become better speakers".

Also, Palomer considers that it took a trend since customers were presenting programs of mindfulness in the office. Thus, Psious is not the only application that helps mental health at work. We can also find others like Clevr, which is a service of virtual reality to help treat social phobia, among other topics, and guided meditation VR.

We can also find Tictrac in the market, offered by health insurance providers. It's a very simple application that works by extracting data from smart phones on the health and well-being of a person, such as the number of steps performed during a day or hours of sleep, from devices like Fitbits and Runkeepers. Thus, the user can use this information to understand the trends in their behavior.

Also, other applications have been designed specifically taking into account the work-related problems. The implementation of targets, Remente, was developed by David Brudó, its co-founder and CEO, for example, when it experienced an overwhelming stress in the workplace.

Mental health experts warn, however, that it should not be seen as a quick fix, even though for many it is encouraging to see that companies are equipping their employees with these resources that can potentially help to manage welfare.

Given this, it is important to note that as any change that brings with it the digital transformation, not include technology to comprise it, but is provided to improve the form of work of the company, and especially the welfare of its employees.

Virtual reality, beyond the world of entertainment and advertising, is showing its social face, offering solutions in the field of education, health and awareness. The more human side, one might say, of virtual reality.


Latin American Post | Diana Ramos

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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