Many studies show that lack of empathetic treatment for patients with mental health challenges extends recovery times, and lack of empathy and isolation have been linked to shortened life expectancy in this group. Developing empathy for those with poor mental health is particularly challenging given that those with complex conditions find it extremely difficult to explain their inner experience or circumstances. Compassion fatigue is common among care staff, and this can increase staff turnover. Given the scale of the current mental health crisis, the increasing demands on carers, and the difficulty of providing effective training, there is a critical need to innovate in this area.
ANAGRAM will use the immersive potential of VR technology to provide insight into the experience of people with mental health problems. It represents the inner world of the patient, giving the learner a new perspective, which provides the basis for developing empathy. This is complemented by the use of biometric data to monitor learners’ responses. This data is fed back to the learner as part of a reflective review process. The learner will develop a set of tangible skills in a way which is impactful, memorable and scalable. The VR is built into a flexible training programme that can be delivered using a range of different learning blends, including group or individual with different technology options. The product will be presented as a physical kit that can be delivered to colleges, hospitals and care homes.