Singapore

Secondary students to learn about depression through VR

Students at some secondary schools will have a chance to use virtual reality (VR) to understand what it is like to have depression.

By donning a VR headset, they will take on the persona of a virtual character - a girl who suffers from depression - and listen to her inner thoughts.

After the two-minute session, the students will discuss the scenario and how they feel.

The one-time session, to be conducted by staff from Touch Community Services, is part of a programme called Do You M.I.N.D.? that teaches secondary school students about mental health through games and classroom learning.

Started by the charitable organisation in October last year, Do You M.I.N.D.? has reached out to about 900 students so far.

Touch launched a mental health-themed train at HarbourFront MRT station yesterday.

Inside the train is information on the four common mental health conditions among the youth that the organisation sees - depression, self-harm, anxiety and eating disorders. There is also information on coping methods and short stories from people who have these conditions.

The train will run for 18 hours daily until the end of next month on the North East Line. The campaign is expected to reach some 840,000 commuters.

Research in January last year from a non-profit organisation that deals with applied behavioural science showed VR training yielded a 75 per cent retention rate, compared to 5 per cent and 10 per cent rate for lecture-style learning and reading, said Touch chief executive officer James Tan.

Mayor of North East District Desmond Choo, the guest of honour at the launch, said awareness of mental health still needs to be promoted because of misconceptions.

"I think there is still a general lack of awareness of what is depression and anxiety," he added.

Education