Brain Sciences


Using virtual reality to deliver mental health therapies

The UCL Division of Psychiatry, part of UCL Brain Sciences, is working with startup Tend VR. Together, we are exploring how technology could help reach more people living with anxiety and depression.

Tend VR

7 January 2021

Tend VR's mission is to employ technology to improve mental health and wellbeing. The company has been developing an at-home scalable VR (virtual reality) course that delivers gold-standard MBCT treatment to patients worldwide. When Tend wanted to bring in rigorous academic research, they contacted UCL. UCL Innovation & Enterprise connected Tend with Dr Rebecca Gould (Associate Professor & Honorary Clinical Psychologist in the Division of Psychiatry at UCL). Dr Gould had been investigating applications for VR so was keen to put her research into practice.  

Tend and Dr Gould have collaborated to develop and test an eight-week MBCT course. Delivered through VR software and hardware, the course uses gamification to engage the participants. The next stage is a feasibility study conducted by mental health organisation The Retreat. The Retreat has over 200 years' experience in pioneering holistic approaches to mental health. Randomised controlled trials in patients will follow. If they are successful, the intervention will be used in clinical settings.

Matthew Hoad-Robson, founder and Managing Director of Tend, commented:  "Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is one of the best available treatments for depression… We're very excited to work with UCL on finding new ways to deliver this vital treatment."

UCL news story about Tend VR partnership