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Future of mental health in the metaverse
  1. Sadia Suhail Usmani1,2,
  2. Medha Sharath3 and
  3. Meghana Mehendale4
  1. 1 Department of Psychiatry, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, Insight Hospital & Medical Center Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3 Department of Psychiatry, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
  4. 4 Department of Psychiatry, Smolensk State Medical University, Smolensk, Russian Federation
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sadia Suhail Usmani; dr.sadiausmani{at}gmail.com

Abstract

The metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were some of the hottest tech terms in 2021, according to a Google Trends search. Our review aims to describe the metaverse and NFTs in the context of their potential application in the treatment of mental health disorders. Advancements in technology have been changing human lives at an ever-increasing pace. Metaverse, also known as the three-dimensional (3D) internet, is the convergence of virtual reality (VR) and physical reality in a digital space. It could potentially change the internet as we know it, with NFTs as the key building blocks in the new expansive virtual ecosystem. This immersive 3D virtual world boasts the features of the real world with the added ability to change the surrounding environment according to individual needs and requirements. VR, augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) have been employed as tools in the treatment of various mental health disorders for the past decade. Studies have reported positive results on their effectiveness in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. VR/AR/MR have been hailed as a solution to the acute shortage of mental health professionals and the lack of access to mental healthcare. But, on the flip side, young adults tend to spend a significant amount of time playing 3D immersive games and using social media, which can lead to insecurity, anxiety, depression, and behavioural addiction. Additionally, endless scrolling through social media platforms negatively affects individuals' attention span as well as aggravating the symptoms of adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

We aimed to explore the ramifications of expanding applications of the metaverse on mental health. So far, no other review has explored the future of mental health in the context of the metaverse.

  • virtual reality exposure therapy
  • adolescent behavior
  • psychiatry
  • adolescent psychiatry
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Footnotes

  • Twitter @Dr_SadiaUsmani

  • Contributors SSU, MS and MM have been involved in regular substantial contributions to the conception and design of the work; drafting the work and revising it critically for important intellectual content; final approval of the version to be published; and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. All authors have contributed equally to the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.