By Christos Makridis
Metavers platform 2B3D announced the first of its kind “virtual reality medical environment,” delivering live, free mental health services to military veterans through the metaverse. Owned and operated by military veterans, 2B3D implements a new treatment through technology that has the potential to vastly improve the physical and mental health of veterans over the Internet.
Facts About Veteran Suicide and Mental Health
There is a twofold recognition that urgent action is needed to reduce veteran suicide in America. “Veteran suicide is still too high, but we are making progress…there is still work to be done so that one day we will talk about veteran suicide in the past,” said US Senator Bill Cassidy on September 20. After the Taliban takeover last summer, Cassidy led a bipartisan group of senators advocating for outreach to veterans who have served in Afghanistan to provide mental health care in response to a rise in suicide hotline calls by veterans.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, which has only increased in the past two years following a wave of mental health decline during lockdowns in all states. But the incidence of suicide is more severe for some groups than others, especially veterans. “Veterans bear a disproportionate but avoidable burden… Veteran suicide rates are also growing faster than the general U.S. population: From 2001 to 2019, the suicide rate among veterans increased nearly 36% from a 30% increase in the general population,” said Christopher Jones, acting director of public health at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in a congressional testimony in June.
Suicide can be a particularly difficult problem to prevent because it often results from a cluster of underlying factors, including a combination of mental health and substance abuse problems, economic and housing insecurity, loneliness, and high stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder also increases the risk of a suicide attempt. A Veterans Affairs Study of 60,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans found that 13.5% of deployed and non-deployed veterinarians screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s hard to say how that figure compares to the stress disorder rate in veterans of previous armed conflicts, since the disorder didn’t get its name. until 1980. Conditions with the same basic symptoms and risk factors were “Post-Vietnam Syndromeand caused up to 25% of Vietnam veterans to require interventions and treatment.
The much-needed remedies
One of the Department of Veteran Affair’s main responses to curbing suicide attempts by veterans is through a crisis line, which is a suicide prevention hotline. A person does not need to be on benefits to call these lines, so family members are often encouraged to call on behalf of a loved one who may be having suicidal thoughts or behavior. However, the effectiveness of a phone call to help someone in a life-or-death situation depends on the ability and availability of the person on the line.
Investigating the suicide line by the Inspector General of the Veterans Affair revealed that as many as a third of calls placed go unanswered. Frontline workers responsible for answering these calls have historically spent little time on the phone or asked to leave before their shift was over, diverting calls to backup centers where operators lacked training to deal with veterans in crisis. to stand word. Hearing a busy signal exacerbates suicidal thoughts and other mental health problems in veterans on the line.
Although the House of Representatives unanimously an account approved Requiring in 2016 Veterans Affairs to ensure that all phone calls, text messages and other communications received through the crisis line are answered in a timely manner by a suitably qualified individual, finding enough of those qualified individuals remains a challenge. For example, there has been a lot of employee turnover, especially in the past two years, and the quality of care has changed at amenities.
While the lack of skilled staff is a major roadblock to ensuring veterans get help, another challenge is the delivery mechanism: care must be accessible when the veteran needs it, which can happen at any time of the day, and the therapies should be enjoyable. Support should be integrated into the daily lives of veterans.
One possible solution is to use chatbots powered by artificial intelligence, as the National Artificial Intelligence Institute of the Department of Veterans Affairs is pioneering through their industry partnerships in technology sprints. Building trustworthy chatbots is a useful goal for veterans who have simple questions, but it may not be a substitute for therapy.
“These are issues that require humans to interact with humans… the sooner we use technology to create virtual reality environments that mimic the human-to-human aspect of treatment, then we can expand that with proven treatments that use artificial intelligence. intelligence or machine learning, and right now the cart is in front of the horse,” said retired Colonel Mark Schonberg, chief of staff at 2B3D.
Upcoming beta launch of 2B3D
The prototype beta for 2B3D’s veteran metaverse environment simulates a typical analog medical clinic or center. The individual’s avatar walks into the facility and is then assessed by one of the counselors. Depending on that evaluation, an individual may be referred to group counseling, a real-world follow-up appointment, individual therapy sessions, or, in extreme cases, referred to 911 services. However, the crisis support aspect is only one option within the medical virtual reality environment. The environment can become a place where underprivileged veterans can spend time together and interact with others experiencing similar challenges.
2B3D’s solution also tackles substance use and addiction. For best results, treatment protocols are initiated for addiction prior to or concurrently with virtual reality treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. During the beta testing of the virtual reality medical environment, 2B3D collaborated with BioCorRx, which addresses the challenges of addiction treatment using a holistic approach to cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medication. Certain resources from BioCorRx’s library of digital cognitive behavioral therapy modules can be found for visitors to the Phase I environment and can be used at any time.
More than half of today’s veterans flock to gaming to relieve service-induced stress as they provide an engaging, exciting and interactive experience. The non-clinical and autonomous setting also encourages veterans to open up and share in ways they may not want to do within the confines of a hospital facility.
“We are working to take already proven symptom-reducing programs for post-traumatic stress disorder and not only duplicate them in virtual reality, but gamify them to make healing fun… the first test patient in our current trials showed results of improved rebalancing of the brain by 34% of the brain in general and more than 60% in damaged, malfunctioning centers,” said Robert Bell, president of 2B3D.
Borrowing from the immersive environments and collaborative team aspects of games popular with veterans, a medical virtual reality environment can provide support in a way that veterans already enjoy and feel comfortable at any hour of the day, with just a headset. and the internet.
Technological advancements, such as expanded 5G coverage and satellite-based solutions such as Starlink, and the expansion of artificial intelligence are driving additional momentum for virtual reality.
“Today we have a lot more data at our disposal that we can use to understand and identify suicidal thoughts, crises and risks of self-harm – at the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs]For example, we have genomic information from the Million Vet program and transcript data from crisis lines like the VA Veterans Crisis Line…new technology like artificial intelligence will never replace the expertise, intuition, and judgment of healthcare teams, but it offers the promise of perspective – an additional safety net that can sift through big data and help us learn and flag those who may be in need and quickly connect them to the care they need.” said Gil Alterovitz, director of the National AI Institute at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The adoption of metaverse experiences will also be accompanied by a wide variety of blockchain-based complementary assets. 2B3D already plans to deploy non-functioning tokens to ensure identity management seamlessly across platforms in a medical virtual reality environment, so users can avoid the hassle and risk of sharing personal and identifiable information when they agree release them for therapies. Whether it’s group therapy or listening to live music, the metaverse will unlock new possibilities for human flourishing among veterans and individuals in general.
Ahead of the platform launch, 2B3D will have a non-fungible token sale in early Q4, details will be announced through the website and social channels. The proceeds will be used to fund the further development of the metaverse environments; additional funds will support the Forge Forward Project.