S72: Virtual Environments and the Therapeutic Space: Exploring the Potential of Virtual Reality to Evaluate Mental Health Service Facilities.

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By September 12, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Stephanie Liddicoat, Xuan Xie

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Virtual Environments and the Therapeutic Space: Exploring the Potential of Virtual Reality to Evaluate Mental Health Service Facilities.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Xuan Xie (Charis) is a Master of Information Systems student that is specialising in E-health at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Xuan’s research interest targets utilising emerging technologies to deliver improved mental health services in the treatment of mental illness, within an E-health context. There is an extensive body of research which affirms the links between mental wellbeing and good design practice. However, there is a lack of design guidance available for designing mental health facilities specifically. There is a gap in existing knowledge bridging the understanding of mental health conditions, aspects of building design which contribute positively to consumer outcomes and experiences, and the ways in which these positive effects can be integrated into built environments. Further, there is a paucity of research and tools for how to positively engage consumer voices in co-design and evaluation processes relative to designing supportive built environments providing mental health care.

This paper discusses findings from a study where we explored how mental health facilities can be designed to enhance consumer outcomes and experiences, and contribute to healthy and sustainable communities. We evaluate the use of virtual reality (VR) as a co-design approach to capture mental health consumer voices. Two mental health facility designs, which integrated design strategies derived from consultation with mental health consumers, their carers, therapists, architects, and design researchers, were evaluated by participants using VR. We discuss the opportunities and limitations of VR as an iterative co-design research tool within the mental health sector.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: The audience will gain a greater understanding of the potential uses of virtual reality as a way to visualise mental health service facilities, the advantages we have uncovered relative to the medium of virtual reality in co-design processes with consumers and their families, implications for mental health service delivery and suggestions for future researchers.
Learning Objective 2: This topic is relevant to mental health services and mental health issues as it specifically addresses how to capitalise on new technologies to innovate service delivery, and to meaningfully integrate the consumer voice into co-design processes; a relatively under-explored research area. This topic also contributes to the dialogue advocating for the inclusion of consumer voices in architectural design processes, as a means to facilitate an enhanced recovery journey and more healthy and resilient communities.

References Liddicoat, S. & Forster, Joe. (2018). Incorporating Service User Perspectives into Mental Health Design. In McGrath, Laura and Reavey, Paula (Eds.). ‘The Handbook of Mental Health and Space: Community and Clinical Applications.’ London: Routledge, p. 280-292.
Shepley. M. M., & Pasha, S. (2017). Design for mental and behavioural health. London: Routledge.

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