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How Schools Use VR Mental Health Hygiene Stations for Teachers and Students

Teachers and staff are using virtual reality to develop healthy mental health habits. Students benefit from having access to mental health hygiene stations directly in the classroom.

Written by Victoria Fisher
August 11th, 2021

What is mental health hygiene?

Mental health hygiene is the act of caring for your mental health by adopting safe, effective practices and ultimately building resilience. We take preventative measures to care for our physical bodies, yet we often don’t consider the importance of developing healthy mental health practices.

 

For example, being mindful of our media diet or incorporating a regular meditation schedule are great ways to start improving your mental health hygiene. With consistent training, we can create wellness within our body and mind. Students can certainly benefit from learning healthy mental health habits from an early age.

 

 

How schools can help with mental health 

Since youth spend a significant amount of their time (30 hours a week) in school, teachers and staff have the power to help them develop healthy coping mechanisms that will serve them far beyond academic hours. Providing mental health hygiene skills for students enables perseverance, self control, and tools to self-manage emotions. With the help of Healium, schools can teach students how to manage stress, better navigate conflict, and calm their anxiety.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are in a mental health emergency. The suicidal, depression, and anxiety rate statistics have continued to increase over the last several years. The rate of suicide for those ages 10 to 24 increased nearly 60% from 2007 to 2018, making suicide the second leading cause for death among people ages 10-34. 

 

Alarming percentages show the mental health crisis taking place inside the school walls today. The CDC’s data and statistics on youth mental health show just the kind of emergency we face.

 

— 9.4% of kids ages 2-17 years have received an ADHD diagnosis (approx. 6.1 million).

— 7.4% of kids ages 3-17 years have been diagnosed with behavior problems (approx. 4.5 million) 

— 7.1% of kids ages 3-17 years have received an anxiety disorder diagnosis (4.4 million) 

— Research shows that children with anxiety disorders are at a higher risk to perform poorly in school, skip social gatherings, and partake in substance abuse. 

— 3.2% of kids ages 3-17 years have been diagnosed with depression (approx. 1.9 million) 

 

In addition, it’s very common for youth to be diagnosed with more than one condition, ie. depression and anxiety, ADHD and behavior problems. 

 

With this mental health emergency, students need a safe place to recharge, regain focus, and calm down when overstimulated. Currently, Healium is being used in educational environments  with teachers and counseling staff. It’s also being used by students before tests to self-manage performance anxiety and better focus. 

 

The virtual reality stories place you inside a peaceful, nature-based setting to relax your mind. The headset allows the user to see the settings all around them; above, below, and behind, which creates the powerful immersive feeling. The brain believes what it sees. Some experiences have a guided meditation which prompt the user to further relax and improve their mind-body connection and focus.

 

Healium’s benefits can be accessed and used in the classroom, the counselor’s office, or the principal’s office. A Healium kit can even be checked out for use at home. It’s a lightweight, portable kit that does not need to be connected to a computer, wifi, or power source to operate. Or, schools can create a “Healium station” where there’s always a clean VR headset ready to go inside a disinfection box. Students who don’t respond to interventions and continue in agitation can use Healium as a “break” to reduce stress after frustration or being overly aroused. 

 

Our Chief Scientist, Dr. Jeff Tarrant, describes Healium as a drugless, non-harmful tool that can be used both as a distraction to escape stress or as a training tool to learn and develop coping skills. The variety of uses with this product makes it a perfect fit for any educational environment.

 

Healium is a resource for teachers and staff as well. Educators are on the frontlines in this mental health emergency.  While a teacher’s struggles and needs will differ from a student’s, their mental health is just as important to manage on a regular basis. They need to take care of their own mental health first in order to be available for their students. Healium can be used by teachers and staff to manage compassion fatigue, improve focus, and reduce burnout. A recent study on frontline healthcare workers showed Healium quickly improved mood and focus in as little as 4 minutes. 

 

When teachers have access to Healium, it provides them a convenient escape to reset and recharge. Teachers notice improvement in classroom productivity, lasting motivation, and attention to students’ behavior, work, and needs. When teachers’ mental health is prioritized, these steps can translate into improvement in student performance and student/teacher relationships. 

 

 

Safety protocols for using shared VR headsets

It’s especially  important to consider the hygiene of shared equipment. While there are a couple options to ensure the health and safety of everyone using virtual reality headsets, the best option is a Cleanbox. Using a Cleanbox, a hospital grade sanitizing machine, is the most convenient and effective way to quickly sanitize the equipment without using wipes or spray.

 

Cleanbox is a premium, eco-friendly, hospital-grade, smart tech decontamination system specifically designed for electronic devices such as VR headsets, eyewear, and facemasks. Using consistent and targeted UVC wavelength light, it kills all bacteria, viruses, fungi, and COVID-19 in just one minute with 99.999% efficacy. 

 

Because UVC is an artificial wavelength of light, common dangerous bacteria and viruses have no immunity to it, therefore stopping their reproduction and killing them immediately. The UVC light does not cause any damage to devices or affect the lifetime of your product. Cleanbox’s light remains unharmful to you.

 

In an academic setting, a Cleanbox can be set up in the corner of the classroom or counselor’s office, holding the VR headset inside until it’s ready to be used. It functions as both the sanitizing and storage solution.  

 

If a Cleanbox is not an option, we recommend purchasing a wipeable face mask that can be wiped with disinfectant wipes. The liner is made of silicone and covers the foam part of the headset that touches the face. Alternatively, most Pico VR headsets come with a built-in silicone covering so they’re easy to wipe in between uses. Clean the headsets with a PDI sani-cloth wipe or Virex on every surface (except for the lenses) and allow them to dry for roughly 3 minutes.

 

If you don’t have a wipeable facemask, you can purchase single-use disposable liners that stick to the VR headset and can be thrown away after the user is finished with their Healium experience. 

 

Beginning to create daily habits to be mindful of our mental health is highly essential to our overall health. We can teach these habits to children so they develop healthy coping skills and positive outcomes. When we address their mental health alongside physical health, their quality of life increases. We must be committed to practice this daily to build emotional resilience for future generations. 

Written by Victoria Fisher
August 11th, 2021