Over the last 20 years, virtual reality (VR) has been widely used to promote mental health in populations presenting different clinical conditions. Mental health does not refer only to the absence of psychiatric disorders but to the absence of a wide range of clinical conditions that influence people’s general and social well-being such as chronic pain, neurological disorders that lead to motor o perceptual impairments, psychological disorders that alter behaviour and social cognition, or physical conditions like eating disorders or present in amputees. It is known that an accurate perception of oneself and of the surrounding environment are both key elements to enjoy mental health and well-being, and that both can be distorted in patients suffering from the clinical conditions mentioned above. In the past few years, multiple studies have shown the effectiveness of VR to modulate such perceptual distortions of oneself and of the surrounding environment through virtual body ownership illusions. This narrative review aims to review clinical studies that have explored the manipulation of embodied virtual bodies in VR for improving mental health, and to discuss the current state of the art and the challenges for future research in the context of clinical care.
- body illusions
- virtual reality