Based in Second Life. [Side note for self: symbolic modeling? psychoactive space? steven.]
Multiple researchers have declared traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder to be the “signature wounds” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent Rand report found that approximately 19% of all Service Members returning from combat theater screen positive for psychological health problems, and of those that screen positive, slightly more than half seek psychological health services. Multiple barriers prevent Service Members from seeking information about psychological health issues and mental health care, including perceived stigma, physical access barriers, and limited resources.
A number of web-based resources aim to educate about post-deployment psychological health issues. Many of these are rich with useful information in the form of text content written by experts, video interviews of other Service Members dealing with similar issues, self-assessment screening tools, self-help exercises, and information regarding accessing care. And while these are great resources, they are also limited with regards to the experience that they can provide to visitors.
The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience aims to be one answer to these limitations. By being based in Second Life, the T2 Virtual PTSD Experience will be available to anyone with a basic Second Life account, which is available free of charge. Once opened, there is no need for registration or requests for access, allowing for anonymous access any time of day. The experience is presented as a self-guided exploration, thus eliminating the need for live staffing, while still allowing for real-time interaction between visitors. Visitors can access this information from the comfort of their home, or anywhere that they have broadband internet access, thus reducing perceived stigma and/or physical access barriers of a brick-and-mortar clinic. But perhaps more importantly, by providing an immersive experience, the T2 Virtual PTSD Experience can serve as a significant adjunct to 2D web-based resources, improving learning through doing rather than merely reading about or watching a video about post-deployment issues. Please note that Second Life is not approved on most government networks. Federal employees who wish to experience the environment will need to do so through other network connections.