Automating mental health treatment

Today marks the start of a new research project on automating mental health treatment using VR and game design. This short project is funded by the University’s Support for Innovation and Research Ideas, Policy and Participation (SIRIPP) grant. The SIRIPP grant supports staff in developing their idea and activity and helps progress to further external funding and support routes.

The project aims to prototype a VR-based mental health treatment solution for internalising disorders that can be administered by patients at home. The solution must be effective, fun, trustworthy, and secure. To achieve this goal, we’ll need to find ways for innovations from human-computer interaction, game design, psychology and artificial intelligence to work together and synergise.

An eye-gaze controlled virtual game prototype for mental health treatment (Developed by Murtada Dohan and Andrew Debus. All Rights Reserved)

The project is led by:

  • Mu Mu (HCI and Data Science), Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, UON
  • Jacqueline Parkes (Applied Mental Health), Faculty of Health, Education and Society, UON
  • Andrew Debus (Game Design), Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, UON
  • Kieran Breen (Psychology), Head of Research and Innovation, St Andrew’s Healthcare
  • Paul Wallang (Psychology), Director of Innovation and Improvement, Cardinal Clinic

The main objectives of the project are:

  • Develop research protocols and ethics guidelines for automated VR treatment.
  • Prototype a VR game with interactive tasks that mimic manualised psychotherapy treatment.
  • Conduct small-scale user trials and capture research-grade data to support follow-on projects
  • Expand our network of collaborators (communities, academics, businesses, policymakers, etc.)

Feel free to contact me ( if you wish to know more about our project.

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