- Studies reveal that metaverse can have positive effects on the mental health of users.
- Metaverse interaction helps people lessen their anxiety.
- Also, people living in remote areas can socialize with others in the metaverse.
In the year 2022, metaverse becomes the mainstream and an increasing number of questions are being raised about the effects it will have on the mental health of its participants worldwide.
With New Technology Comes New Challenges
These questions are neither unexpected nor unwelcome. Experts and commentators have always been quick to raise concerns about the negative impact new technologies can have. From the evolution of the internet to the growing popularity of video games and social media, new platforms are now coming under similar levels of scrutiny. While the Metaverse represents a new frontier, we are now more attuned to the risks associated with virtual worlds and have begun to develop tools to help address them, such as safety controls and screen time monitoring.
However, with the ability to fully immerse oneself in virtual reality – a much more advanced and socially complex digital realm – fears that these issues will be exacerbated to new levels rife.
This narrative is important and, as is the case with excessive time spent on gaming or using social media, people need to keep track of the amount of time they spend in the Metaverse, ensuring that it does not come at a cost to their engagement with real-life relationships, exercise, and natural environments.
It’s also imperative that the creators of Metaverses find a way to establish effective regulatory control around unlawful behavior such as racism, sexual appropriacy, and emotional abuse. The introduction of such an unprecedented dynamic to everyday life will certainly call for the appropriate diligence in this regard.
Breaking Boundaries and Accessing Support
While significant time, effort, and resources must go into tackling the potential negatives of the Metaverse, it is also important to recognize the immense positive power that the Metaverse holds not least for those already struggling with certain mental health issues. Where there is a novelty, there is scope for amelioration, and in this case, a whole new world can offer up progressive and innovative solutions to how mental health problems are tackled.
Through the Metaverse, those suffering from issues such as anxiety or agoraphobia will be able to interact with others in a way that feels more comfortable. This could help them deal with barriers such as fear of judgment and in time encourage them to hold conversations and enter new environments in the physical world.
Similarly, those who experience a general sense of loneliness – such as those who live in remote locations – may feel more socially included by entering the metaverse. The opportunity to establish relationships with people from all over the world and connect with others who share a similar set of passions and interests will break down geographic boundaries.
Another fundamental feature of the Metaverse will be the inclusion of “islands” or “planets.” Each with its dedicated focus or specialty, the opportunity to develop mental health sanctuaries should be treated as a priority for Metaverse creators. Users could experience therapy services, mindfulness classes, and exercise programs within these spaces. This could be a game-changer for those who may lack the confidence or resources to pursue these avenues in the physical world.
Another group that could experience a unique set of benefits is those with physical disabilities. In the Metaverse some stand to gain a whole new sense of motion and interaction which can offer a real sense of liberation as they explore new environments and transition between planets and islands. With virtual reality, they can travel to exotic destinations such as beaches and rainforests, or visit different cities and monuments, all from the comfort of their home.
This sense of liberation from physical restrictions will also spread across all aspects of identity. People from all walks of life – of any race, size, or gender – will be able to recreate themselves and be whoever they want to be. The Metaverse will offer them a chance to build an avatar as their ideal self. Rather than discouraging them from being themselves in the physical world, this should encourage them to broaden their scope of who they believe themselves to be – opening up room for undiscovered attributes and characteristics to shine through
As we prepare to face this new phenomenon with uncertainty and excitement, we must remain optimistic about the endless possibilities it presents. Any tool that can be utilized to help people who suffer from mental health should be harnessed to its full capacity. The metaverse should be no exception.