Mental Health and Wellness in the Metaverse

Future Forward: Mental Health and Wellness are burgeoning in the Metaverse, in honor of World Mental Health Day

Today’s quickly immerging Web 3.0 or Metaverse reality places Mental Health and Wellness as a front-and-center topic for its implications for the end-user. What does it mean for your mental health and wellness? In the developing hybrid environment, maybe more than any of us can imagine.The @MWI is launching today, an exploration of Mental Health & Wellness and the Metaverse with the outcome to identify optimal uses of the metaverse to enhance mental wellness and to identify potential risks and challenges to be avoided for poor mental health outcomes while engaging in this new way.Research published in The British Medical Journal has highlighted that virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) have been hailed as a solution to the acute shortage of mental health professionals and the lack of access to mental healthcare. The flip side is young adults tend to spend a significant amount of time playing 3D immersive games and using social media, which can lead to insecurity, anxiety, depression, and behavioural addiction. On the positive side, simulations in the metaverse have shown that a number of mental health conditions have already benefited from VR, including: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; eating disorders; anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder; stress and pain management; and others. Yet, while VR has been hailed as the future of mental health management, studies have shown a lack of significant improvement over conventional, evidence-based approachesOn the problematic side, research has found that most children displaying signs of gaming addiction had poor social skills and a higher tendency to act impulsively. It has also been discovered that increased loneliness and depression, anxiety, social fears, and poor academic performance are more likely to be the aftermath of addictive behaviour than to be the cause of it. This is an important point to keep in mind when we engage in all the forms of Web 3.0. Immersive spaces can provide an incredible opportunity for many to practice mindfulness, meditation, or yoga–in a situation where they may otherwise not have access–and this bodes well for Mental Wellness. Adding to this mix, typically, payment for these experiences is in the form of crypto currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), reinforcing the sense that this is a new reality, with its own language, community and ecosystem. A deep understanding of the potential of the metaverse to enhance mental wellbeing, as well as an awareness, and knowledge, on how to navigate.