Staff at the Great Western Hospital mark World Mental Health Day with innovative virtual reality experience

Staff at the Great Western Hospital are marking World Mental Health Day 2017 by taking part in an innovative virtual activity which recreates what it’s like for an autistic person to have sensory overload.

The mental health team will be touring wards and departments encouraging staff to take part in the immersive virtual experience on Tuesday 10 October.

The 360 degree virtual reality film contains flashing lights, bright colours and loud, sudden noises to mimic the sensory experience of a person with autism visiting a shopping centre.

Wendy Johnson, lead for World Mental Health Day, said: “The virtual reality experience really helps staff to understand how it feels to have sensory overload.

“It is thought-provoking and we’ve had lots of positive feedback from staff who have taken part previously, so we decided to showcase it in today’s events.

“World Mental Health Day is about raising awareness of the various issues that affect the day-to-day lives of both staff and patients, and sharing important information about the many services available.”

The national theme of this year’s  event is mental health in the workplace, reminding staff that it is especially important when working in healthcare to care for their own mental health as well as that of their patients.

In addition, there will be information stands in multiple areas of GWH, where visitors can learn about  what’s being done to support the mental health of staff and find out more about the services available for patients.

The team will also be collecting personal pledges from staff on how they plan to take better care of their mental health at work, with the top ten pledges being shared as tips for others.

People are encouraged to spread the word via Facebook (@GWHNHS) or on Twitter (@GWH_NHS), using #WorldMentalHealthDay to join in the conversation

The Autism TMI Virtual Reality Experience is available to watch online at