New to the world of virtual reality, two first year college students have come together to find an alternative way to treat patients with depression. Here at TreeHacks, we proposed the MAPLE application, a virtual reality program that would make treatment more accessible to patients suffering from depression. If you prefer an individual healing experience, you could have therapy sessions in the comfort of your own home by using augmented reality, or group therapy with other users if you are seeking support. With the benefits of VR technology, one could have full anonymity with a custom avatar. In addition to these services, MAPLE would offer the soothing nature of any environment of your choice, in colors proven to treat patients suffering from depression. Both scientifically- and patient- proven, those who spend at least two hours outdoors a week demonstrate health improvements, mentally, and even physically. MAPLE seeks to satisfy the human instinct to connect not only with one’s environment, but also their community.
Raised by a father with depression, Ashley was inspired to create a service that would remove the social stigma of seeking treatment, a common obstacle for those with mental illness. Through a group therapy feature, she also hopes that suffering individuals would be able to find the support and help they need in a safe, moderated environment. Using a VR platform increases accessibility by eliminating other obstacles such as affordability, distance, and social anxiety. As first year college students, we both know students who are struggling with depression due to the stress of adapting to a new environment and curriculum. Not only have some of our closest friends been impacted by mental illness, but we have also seen family members put their lives on hold to deal with the debilitating effects of depression. Mental health issues impact everyone, not only the individuals afflicted with it, but also their loved ones. With its relaxing environments, we hope that MAPLE will be a safe haven for all.
The integration of chromotherapy into natural surroundings will promote a positive feedback loop for those struggling with depression, and alleviate patients of their often debilitating symptoms.
We began by learning what versions of VR software were compatible with one another, and what would be the best suitable environment for those struggling with symptoms of depression. Through research and statistics, we found that those struggling with depression felt most relieved when viewing shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, violet, purple, and brown. With this in mind, MAPLE would incorporate these colors in environments to aid users their journey to overcome mental illness.
In future applications, MAPLE will help different users access different surroundings based on the conditions they are suffering from, including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety and even insomnia. For instance, the color white symbolizes and combines the power of all colors in creating the ground on which the patient and these trees grow from; hence, the tranquil, snowy environment helps users feel comforted and safe, free from stressors, overstimulation, and distractions. Even accents of these key colors in lush, green forest environments could trigger these positive emotions. This ultimately allows patients to release their emotions and make the best use of the scenarios they are placed in. Combining Unity Development with the MagicLeap Oculus Quest, we have designed a service that offers a diverse range of healing methods to make support and treatment far more accessible to all.
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