Two things surprised me when I faced Shane Warne’s devilish googly on centre pitch at a packed MCG. The first was that I lobbed the chisel-jawed celeb for six. The second was that, when the crowd stood up and roared approval, I turned to them and waved my bat in appreciation. The virtual crowd that is.

I was, of course, dispatching Warney in an immersive virtual reality (VR) cricket game. But I had never expected it to be so lifelike I’d be hoodwinked into thinking those adoring fans were real.

Until now, the gamer generation has pretty much had dibs on VR, but recent quantum leaps have made the technology so real that gamers may have to start sharing their coveted space with some rather tech-savvy mental health folk. New studies under way at Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Melbourne, and at King’s College London, are harnessing dramatic improvements in VR to literally retool the treatment of depression and psychosis.

The promise is that commercially available headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive will become fixtures in the consulting room, helping young patients to relive experiences that trigger mental health crises and to deal with them.

Read the full article in the Australian Financial Review here

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