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Will the Metaverse Impact Mental Health?

05.04.2022 06:04 AM
Will the Metaverse Impact Mental Health?
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Will the Metaverse Impact Mental Health?
Concerns about the effects of the metaverse on mental health are growing among experts, as technologists continue to build their own metaverse platforms.

Experts are seriously considering how Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plans for the future will affect the mental health of individuals, some of whom have already been heavily integrated into the online world, especially after the expansion of the digital space.

This topic raises controversy among scientists, and technology and mental health experts have always warned in the past about new technologies and how they will affect our lives, while many of them have gone to consider these concerns as unfounded because factors such as genetics and socioeconomic status are more important to a person's well-being, According to the Wall Street Journal.

Some experts considered that the concept of metaphysics is not only revolutionary, but it is an uncharted territory that will certainly pose some challenges, as science provides concrete evidence linking it to the excessive use of digital technology with many mental health problems, such as depression, psychosis and paranoid thinking, according to an article written in Psychology Today.

Rachel Quert, director of research at Take This, a nonprofit focused on mental health in the video game community, notes that spending too much time in a digital environment can also lead someone to prefer virtual spaces over reality.

There can be challenges when people spend so much time "in a world where everyone is perfect and beautiful," said Jeremy Belinson, founding director of the Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory.

University of Oregon psychology professor Nick Allen noted that the question is not how much time people spend in metaverses, but rather whether time spent in the metaverse enhances or hinders an individual's mental health.

Allen adds: “A young person who may be LGBT and find a context online where they can feel socially supported – we would expect it to be beneficial for their mental health, but if the use of metaverse technologies replaces offline behaviors that are healthy and supportive of mental health, such as exercise appropriate, participation in real-life relationships, healthy sleep, and time spent in natural environments may be harmful.”

Some experts believe that the metaverse can have a positive effect on people but only when used in a healthy way.

“We know that certain forms of psychotherapy, particularly VR exposure therapy, can be great tools to help individuals affected by a variety of phobias,” says Dr Daria Koss, Head of the Cyber Psychology Research Group at Nottingham Trent University.

Coss added that mental health issues such as depression, psychosis, addiction, eating disorders, and PTSD can be treated using the metaverse "by gradually exposing people to the stimulus causing fear or trauma in a safe setting (such as a virtual environment).

Koss explained that the interactive nature of metaverse could provide a different platform for conducting therapy online, which could lead to improved access to treatment for people with disabilities with a better and more life-like experience.
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