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BCMHSUS Virtual Reality Proof of Concept

Posted • Last updated

Deadline: Apply by

Commitment: Short-term

Connection method: In-person

Open to Fraser – Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Valley & Lower Mainland

Last updated

The BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS) provides health care services to people across British Columbia with severe mental health and substance use issues, people in custody, and people who have been referred by the courts for assessment and treatment.

BCMHSUS has initiated a Digital Innovation Project in partnership with TELUS and the BC Ministry of Citizens’ Services Telecom Office. The objective of the project is to identify leading-edge virtual and digital care innovations that will enhance the quality of care for clients in all BCMHSUS clinical programs.

The BCMHSUS Digital Innovation Project is seeking interested Patient Partners for a new “proof of concept” of Virtual Reality (VR) solutions as a possible new way to assist in the future treatment of clients at Red Fish and other BCMHSUS facilities.

Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create simulated environments. Virtual Reality places the user inside a three-dimensional experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed in and interact with 3D worlds. VR technology includes a headset and hand controllers that allow for a 360-degree immersive audio and video experience.

For the proof of concept, Patient Partners will be introduced to Virtual Reality technology and will have the opportunity to try it and then answer some questions about the experience. The VR scenarios will be simple experiences such as a nature walk, picking up objects, or
something similar.

Patient Partner input and feedback will help shape whether and how to proceed with future pilots and programs using virtual reality technology within BCMHSUS.

Note that future use of Virtual Reality technology within BCMHSUS programs is intended to simulate clients’ exposure to substance use triggers in realistic locations, accompanied with the teaching of adaptive coping mechanisms by clinical or counseling staff. Ultimately, the purpose will be to reduce the risk of relapse by exposing the clients to triggers, in a safe, supportive and controlled environment.

However, for the proof of concept, the VR scenarios will be limited to simple experiences that are unrelated to substance use.

Level of Engagement
This opportunity is at the level of “consult” on the spectrum of engagement ( – i.e., obtain feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.

The promise to you is to keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge your concerns and aspirations, and provide feedback on how Patient Partner input has contributed to the assessment of the VR technology.

The project is seeking up to 8 patient partners for this initiative, specifically:
• Those with lived experience with concurrent disorders (i.e., a patient lens), preferably with direct experience with BCMHSUS services, or folks who have had experience in an inpatient mental health setting
• Participation in this project is not recommended for anyone who struggles with active hallucinations or other concerns about perception of reality.

As a Patient Partner, if you participate in the proof of concept, you will be invited to attend a single Virtual Reality session, lasting approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, including:
• Basic orientation on the VR technology, followed by guided use of a few specific VR environments and scenarios of your own choosing (from a set of options available).
• Structured interview/discussion about your opinions and experiences with the VR technology.

At any time and for any reason, you can choose to stop your participation in the proof of concept.

The sessions will be held between July to October 2024, likely at either Red Fish Healing Centre (Coquitlam, BC) or the TELUS offices (Downtown Vancouver).


Application Details
If you are interested, please submit a brief description of your background and why you are interested in this project to:

From Our Community

Derek Koch

Spiritual Health Practitioner and Patient- and Family-Centred Care Lead — Kelowna General Hospital

Derek Koch

The bottom line is because we’re caring for patients. People who know best are those who are receiving the care so it makes logical sense that we would consult with them about their experiences. By connecting with PVN we have been able to educate our teams about the value of patient partners and how important their perspective is in our services.