Castle Peak Hospital’s Mind Space museum offers unique mental health experience using virtual reality technology

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Relics related to mental illness, including handwritten medical records of patients, are showcased throughout Mind Space, which also utilises interactive displays as a key education tool.

3rd December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Castle Peak Hospital’s Mind Space museum aims to tackle fear and misconceptions surrounding mental illness by providing visitors with an immersive experience of hallucinations through the use of virtual reality (VR) technology. The museum, located in Hong Kong, recently welcomed a group of secondary students who embarked on a journey of understanding the development of psychiatric services in the region.

The museum features captivating displays showcasing the evolution of restraints and handwritten patient records, offering a glimpse into the historical context of mental health treatment. Additionally, the students had the opportunity to explore a mock protection room designed to create a calming environment for patients.

One of the highlights of Mind Space is the Brain Tour zone, where students can learn about the scientific aspects behind the causes of mental illness. The Symptom Experience Rooms, powered by VR technology, allow visitors to simulate the visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations that individuals with mental illness often encounter.

The impact of this unique experience was evident among the students. Ho Hin-man, a Secondary 6 student, admitted underestimating the profound impact of mental illness on patients’ lives. She expressed that individuals with mental illness face heightened levels of mental tension, extreme nervousness, and intensified worrying due to impaired visual and auditory senses.

Chan Ngai-sum, another Secondary 6 student, acknowledged his limited understanding of mental illness prior to the Mind Space tour. He gained valuable insights from the Symptom Experience Rooms, describing the experience as both uncanny and vividly visible.

Mind Space goes beyond technology and employs ex-mentally ill individuals as Peer Support Workers who share their personal experiences with visitors. Jecko, one of the Peer Support Workers, recounted his auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations during the onset of his mental illness. He emphasized the importance of seeking medical assistance and adhering to prescribed medications, as they significantly alleviated the severity of his symptoms.

Eric, another Peer Support Worker, shared a similar experience of auditory hallucinations and insomnia. He stressed the significance of family and friends offering appropriate support, cautioning against dismissing patients’ symptoms as mere figments of imagination. Such dismissive attitudes can be disheartening and discourage patients from sharing their experiences.

Both Jecko and Eric emphasized that mental illness is not a dead end but a path to recovery. Their role as Peer Support Workers allows them to serve as role models and demonstrate to the public the possibilities of recovery, ultimately easing fears and concerns among patients’ relatives.

Castle Peak Hospital plans to extend invitations to more schools to visit Mind Space, aiming to enhance young people’s understanding of mental illness and mental health. Dr Jane So, Associate Consultant at Castle Peak Hospital, explained that the museum was specifically designed with the youth in mind. By intervening during this crucial phase of their lives, the museum aims to correct biases and provide education on mental health, shaping their values and perspectives positively.