AXA Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Oxford VR (OVR) announced an agreement today on a first-of-a-kind partnership to pilot a groundbreaking automated immersive therapy using virtual reality (VR) for mental health in Asia including the Greater Bay Area.
The pilot focuses on a jointly supported clinically-validated trial in Hong Kong using a modern VR technology platform for managing common mental health issues, such as social avoidance, anxiety and depressive symptoms, in people’s daily lives and work.
In Asia, there is generally a high level of stigma surrounding mental wellbeing, resulting from a lack of awareness and education. There is also a lack of resources and a trained workforce to cater for mental health needs. Enabling widespread and easy access to effective new solutions has never been more critical.
This partnership brings together AXA Hong Kong’s unique understanding of the Asian healthcare market, CUHK’s outstanding reputation for academic excellence and research and Oxford VR’s world-class clinical expertise in developing psychological therapies using immersive technology.
“AXA’s strategy is to transform from payer to partner to our customers,” said Gordon Watson, Chief Executive Officer of AXA Asia. “Our customers are telling us they want to have easier access to expertise and support for their mental wellbeing. We know the technology from Oxford VR works as it is already used in the UK National Health Service. AXA is proud to bring this technology to Hong Kong and Asia. Not only will we provide educational awareness on the topic and improve access to psychological services, but the partnership with CUHK will build the research evidence to advance care for common mental health conditions worldwide. This is a clear demonstration of our strategy coming to life by engaging professional stakeholders and offering innovative solutions to promote people’s wellbeing in Asia.”
Professor Fanny Cheung, Pro-Vice-Chancellor / Vice-President of CUHK, said, “With over 30 years of history, CUHK Department of Psychology has gained a leading position in various psychological research areas, especially those related to cross-cultural and Chinese psychology. Our globally-recognised comprehensive curriculum and teaching methods that keep pace with the times have made possible outstanding achievements for us in teaching and research over the years.We are delighted to establish a collaboration with AXA Hong Kong and Oxford VR that integrates scientific research with innovative technology and training of talents in service delivery, to provide a new solution to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.I hope that this collaboration can contribute to the promotion of global mental health.”
“We are delighted to announce this partnership with AXA Hong Kong and CUHK as it marks an exciting breakthrough for mental wellbeing in Asia and builds on our shared vision of making effective new mental health solutions available. Ambitious action is required to tackle the growing gap between demand and supply in mental healthcare. This is a solution whose time has come and demonstrates our commitment to accelerate the adoption of evidence-based automated immersive therapy in mental healthcare by fostering relationships between academia and industry,” said Barnaby Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford VR.
A variety of specially-designed scenarios will be developed for this clinically-verified trial. These scenarios will be offered in both English and Cantonese.
The pilot will involve the recruitment of the public to participate in the trial and is expected to be completed next year. Programme details will be announced at the upcoming launch in June.