In June 2018, CAMHS.Digital was thrilled to be represented by Dr Pauline Whelan at the UK-China Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop in Xi’an, China. The focus of this 4 day event was ‘Health and Well-being through Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)’, and it gave UK researchers interested in this field the opportunity to network with and learn from each other and their international counterparts. As well as having the chance to discuss their own research and establish potential links and collaborations, researchers were also able to attend presentations from experts in digital healthcare technologies, listen to talks about new and exciting VR and AR research, and had the opportunity to get hands-on with a range of new technologies.
CAMHS.Digital was delighted to be able to present an overview of our research unit, as well as share details about the exciting upcoming virtual reality research that the unit will be involved in. We told other researchers about our ambition to develop new digital strategies to improve the mental health and social outcomes of vulnerable children and young people, and how we will establish a group of children and young people as Citizen Researchers to do this and ensure that children’s and young people’s input always remain at the heart of our work.
We also discussed our ambition to develop evidence-based virtual reality and augmented reality interventions to assist with children’s and young people’s management of self-harm, which will hopefully address some of the current gaps and issues in mental health services in the UK. We explained how this would involve translating the existing use of safe distraction techniques into VR and AR technologies, developing self-harm interventions which are personalised and acceptable to the user, as well as safe, accessible, scalable and cost-effective. Overall, our work and ambitions received an extremely positive reception from other workshop participants, and we were able to establish many positive links with other researchers and experts, who we will hopefully be able to work with in the future.