Anagram, a creative studio specialising in immersive experience design, has secured funding to create a new virtual reality training series around mental health for healthcare workers. 

Inside Mental Health is an immersive resource with a virtual reality (VR) component based on Anagram’s Emmy-nominated Goliath Playing with Reality. It includes a physical toolkit that guides users through the sessions, which begin with a narrative VR experience, during which participants’ biometric data is captured in real-time.  

The resource is funded by Innovate UK and Ufi VocTech Trust, and is guided by an advisory panel of experts. The experts include Dr Chris Kowalski, consultant psychiatrist and simulation lead at Oxford Health NHS Foundation and Lucy Watkins, mental health nurse and portfolio lead for simulation and digital technology at the School of Health and Social Wellbeing at the University of the West of England.  

Thanks to funding from MyWorld, the Anagram team is also looking at how that biometric data during the immersive experiences can provide insights to improve learning outcomes. As a stand-alone application, Feel Learn Do will be used alongside the Goliath VR experience, as well as in future projects from the studio.  

May Abdalla, CEO of Anagram, said: “Data has long been used to collect information about the participant but often remains out of sight. We are interested in seeing how sharing the data with the user offers them the opportunity to gain insights into their own emotional journey which supports learning and behaviour changes that endure.”  

The VR training from Anagram has already been used to support learning for nurses at the University of the West of England in the School of Health and Social Wellbeing. 

Watkins said: “Bringing Inside Mental Health to our students gave them an important and memorable experience that allowed us to deliver high quality and impactful teaching […] Anagram really understands how to use VR meaningfully in learning. Working with them brought value, significance and impact to our teaching.”  

Goliath Playing with Reality is a 25-minute VR experience narrated by actress Tilda Swinton. It depicts the true story of a man experiencing psychosis.  

VR is increasingly playing its part in helping to train the nation’s health professionals. Towards the end of last year, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced new VR films to its dementia education. The four films were designed to put clinicians in the shoes of their patients by immersing them in their world, to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia.