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BehaVR Launches CenteredVR to Reduce Chronic Workforce Stress

Virtual reality program developed in collaboration with Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions offers employers a new way to help employees cope with the toll of ongoing stress

BehaVR, a leading innovator of virtual reality digital wellness and digital therapeutics experiences for behavioral health, announced the launch of CenteredVR, a new virtual reality (VR) program aimed at reducing chronic stress. Developed in collaboration with Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions, CenteredVR was created to assist employers in helping their employees cope with stress. Stress management can mitigate the negative effects of stress which contribute to chronic conditions like hypertension.

“We developed CenteredVR with the team at Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions as a new option for employers seeking to help their workforce better cope with stress.”

“Chronic stress is a widespread problem that affects so many areas of people’s lives, negatively impacting both their physical and mental health,” said Peter Buecker, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of BehaVR. “CenteredVR uses mindfulness-based interventions, which have long been used to alleviate chronic stress. It combines the neurological and psychological power of virtual reality with mindfulness practices in an immersive and personalized environment that helps individuals reduce stress and anxiety and, even more importantly, learn stress resilience.”

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According to a 2017 report published by the American Psychological Association (APA), 71% of adults experience at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious. APA research indicates that stress can result in accidents, absenteeism, employee turnover, diminished productivity, and direct medical, legal, and insurance costs. Moreover, many common, chronic diseases are related to stress, and chronic stress can contribute to serious health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses.

CenteredVR is a dynamic, personalized VR experience that can reduce chronic stress by building resilience and coping skills. The program gradually guides individuals through a soothing, immersive virtual reality environment and uses multiple mindfulness-based techniques.

Featuring clinical psychologist Neda F. Gould, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Mindfulness Program, CenteredVR delivers a series of six progressive lessons intended to help users to bring the mind into the present moment, which can immediately lower stress, and guides them through educational elements and mindfulness practices that teach coping skills to more effectively manage life’s stressors. Helping individuals to optimize their stress responses allows them to become less reactive and more resilient to stressors while mitigating the damaging effects of chronic stress.

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Continuously refined and personalized through the collection of data during each session, the CenteredVR experience engages people in caring for their health. Users can track their own progress from beginning to end through the Perceived Stress Scale, which is administered in the first lesson and then again in the sixth. This information is collected via BehaVR’s secure, HIPAA-compliant cloud, which allows for EMR integration.

While users are likely to be initially introduced to CenteredVR within a clinic setting, the program is delivered through a VR headset, which can be taken home and managed by the user through an easy-to-navigate kiosk mode, providing safe and convenient access to the mindfulness programs, when needed.

“While chronic stress has always been a challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven significant increases in stress and workforce burnout,” said Aaron Gani, founder and CEO of BehaVR. “We developed CenteredVR with the team at Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions as a new option for employers seeking to help their workforce better cope with stress. It is a powerful addition to the other supportive services and tools many companies are providing their teams, teaching people skills that will help them better manage all of the stressors they face and, ultimately, help them lead healthier lives.”

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