By Christos Makrides
The Metaverse 2B3D platform has announced a first-of-its-kind “Virtual Reality Medical Environment,” which provides free live mental health services to veterans across the metaverse. 2B3D, which is owned and operated by military veterans, is spreading a new treatment via technology that has the potential to dramatically improve the physical and mental health of veterans online.
Veteran Suicide Facts and Mental Health
There is bipartisan recognition that urgent responses are necessary to reduce veteran suicides in America. US Senator Bill Cassidy said September 20, “Veteran suicide is still very high, but we are making progress…there is still work to do so that one day we are talking about veteran suicide in the past tense.” In the summer, Cassidy led a bipartisan group of senators advocating outreach to veterans who served in Afghanistan to provide mental health resources in response to an increase in veteran suicide hotline calls.
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, which has only intensified in the past two years after further deterioration in mental health during lockdowns across states. But the incidence of suicide falls more on the shoulders of some groups than others, especially veterans. “Veterans carry a disproportionate but preventable burden… Veteran suicide-related deaths are also increasing at a greater rate than the rate of the general US population: From 2001 to 2019, the suicide rate for veterans increased by nearly 36% compared to an increase of 30 percent,” Christopher said. Jones, the acting director of the CDC’s Public Health Service testifying before Congress in June, said the percentage is in the general population.
Suicide can be a particularly difficult problem to prevent because it is often the result of a combination of underlying factors, which may include any combination of mental health and substance abuse issues, economic and housing insecurity, loneliness and extreme stress. PTSD also increases the risk of attempting suicide. A Veterans Affairs study of 60,000 war veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan found that 13.5% of deployed and non-deployed vets screened positive for PTSD. It’s hard to know how this number compares to rates of stress disorder in veterans from previous armed conflicts, since the disorder wasn’t given its name until 1980. Conditions with the same underlying symptoms and risk factors were called “post-Vietnam syndrome” and caused up to 25% of Vietnam veterans need interventions and treatment.
Lots of treatments
One of the major responses of the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce veteran suicide attempts is through its crisis line, the suicide prevention hotline. A person does not need to register for benefits to call these lines, so family members are often encouraged to call on behalf of a loved one who has suicidal thoughts or behaviors. However, the effectiveness of a phone call to help someone in a life-or-death situation depends on the competence and availability of the person on the line.
Research conducted on a suicide hotline by the Inspector General of Veterans Affairs revealed that up to a third of calls made went unanswered. Frontline staff charged with the responsibility of answering these calls in the past have spent little time on the phone or asked to leave before their shift ends, causing calls to be redirected to support centers where operators lacked sufficient training to deal with crisis veterans. Hearing a busy signal exacerbates suicidal thoughts and other mental health challenges among veterans on the front line.
Although the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill in 2016 requiring Veterans Affairs to ensure that all phone calls, text messages, and other communications received by the crisis line are answered in a timely manner by an appropriately qualified person, a sufficient number of such qualified individuals is It is still a challenge. For example, there has been a lot of staff turnover, especially over the past two years, and the quality of care in the facilities has changed.
While the lack of skilled personnel is a major obstacle in ensuring that veterans get help, another challenge is the delivery mechanism: Care must be available when a veteran needs it, which can happen at any time of the day, and treatments must be enjoyable. Support must be integrated into the daily lives of veterans.
One potential solution is to use AI-powered chatbots, with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Institute of Artificial Intelligence leading through their partnerships with industry in the technology races. Building reliable chatbots is a useful goal for veterans with simple queries, but it may not be a substitute for therapy.
“These are issues that require human-to-human interaction…the faster we can leverage technology to create virtual reality environments that simulate the human-to-human aspect of therapy, then we can augment that with proven treatments that can augment artificial intelligence or machine learning,” he said. Retired Colonel Mark Schoenberg, Chief of Staff at 2B3D “Now the cart before the horse.”
Launching the next beta version of 2B3D
Demo version of a 2B3D metaverse environment for veterans simulating a typical analog clinic or medical center. The individual’s avatar is entered into the facility and then evaluated by a counsellor. Depending on this assessment, a subject may be referred for group counseling, scheduled for real-world follow-up, individual therapy sessions performed, or in extreme cases referred to 911 services. However, the crisis support aspect is simply one of the options within The medical environment of virtual reality. The environment can become a place where disadvantaged veterans can spend time together and interact with others facing similar challenges.
The 2B3D solution also addresses substance abuse and addiction. Treatment protocols for addiction are initiated before, or at the same time, virtual reality treatment for PTSD for best results. While piloting a medical environment for virtual reality, 2B3D partnered with BioCorRx, which addresses addiction treatment challenges using a holistic approach to cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medications. Select resources from the BioCorRx library of digital CBT units that will be discoverable to visitors to the Phase 1 environment and can be engaged at any time.
More than half of the veterans today flock to games to relieve the stress of the service as they provide an engaging and action-packed interactive experience. The non-clinical and independent setting also encourages veterans to open up and participate in ways they might not want to do within the confines of a hospital facility.
“We are working on taking already proven software to reduce PTSD symptoms and not just replicate them in virtual reality, but also to play with them to make recovery enjoyable… The first patient tested in our current trials showed results of improved rebalancing in 2B3D,” said Robert Bell, president of 2B3D. Brain with 34% of the brain overall and more than 60% in damaged low performance centers.
Borrowing from the immersive environments and co-op aspects of games popular with veterans, a VR medical environment can provide support in a way that veterans can actually enjoy and feel comfortable at any hour of the day, using a headset and internet.
Technological improvements, such as expanded 5G coverage, satellite-based solutions like Starlink, and expansion in artificial intelligence are providing additional impetus to virtual reality.
“Today, we have more data available to us that we can use to understand and identify suicidal thoughts, crises, and risk of self-harm — in the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs]For example, we have genomic information from the Million Vet Program and text data from crisis lines like the VA Veterans Crisis Line… New technology like AI will never replace the expertise, intuition and judgment of care teams, but it does offer the promise of perspective—an additional safety net It can examine big data and help us learn and report on those who may need it and quickly connect them to the care they need.” said Jill Alterovitz, director of the National Institute of Artificial Intelligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The adoption of metaverse experiences will also come with a wide range of complementary blockchain-based assets. 2B3D is already planning to deploy non-fungible tokens to ensure identity management is seamless across platforms in a VR medical environment so users can avoid the hassle and risks of sharing personally identifiable information whenever they agree to release it for treatments. Whether it’s group therapy or listening to live music, the metaverse will open up new possibilities for human flourishing among veterans and individuals in general.
Ahead of its platform launch, 2B3D will have a non-fungible token sale early in the fourth quarter, and details will appear across its website and social channels. Proceeds will be used to fund further development of their metaverse environments; The additional funds will support the Forge Forward project.
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