Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Otsuka) and Jolly Good Inc. (Jolly Good) have commenced the delivery of innovative content aimed at supporting families of individuals in Japan grappling with severe social withdrawal (hikikomori) through the utilization of the social skills training (SST) program, FACEDUO.
In October 2022, Otsuka and Jolly Good initiated the first phase of their collaborative mental healthcare SST support program, employing VR technology within FACEDUO. By leveraging VR to simulate real-life scenarios encountered in everyday settings like home or work, the program facilitates a deeper understanding of the experiences of those affected. This, in turn, fosters improved communication and comprehension among patients, facility staff, and their support networks, including family members. Moreover, the VR environment offers guidance for patients, enabling the delivery of high-quality SST irrespective of the proficiency or duration of experience of the patients’ supporters.
The newly introduced family support program for individuals grappling with severe social withdrawal enables families to immerse themselves in the perspective of the patients through VR. By facilitating the interchange of perspectives between family members and patients and prompting reflection on their interactions, the program encourages insights that enhance communication, thus fostering stronger relationships between patients and their families.
Furthermore, participants have the opportunity to acquire dialogue skills through expert-led explanations. VR facilitates the learning of both verbal and non-verbal cues such as facial expressions. This program is tailored for implementation in family sessions conducted by consultation agencies and facilities nationwide that extend support to socially withdrawn individuals.
Severe, long-term social withdrawal has emerged as a significant societal concern, with estimates suggesting that over 1.4 million people in Japan are affected.*1 The prolonged nature of social withdrawal poses challenges as individuals and their families often hesitate to seek consultation or medical assistance due to mental health conditions like depression, coupled with prevalent prejudices and misunderstandings surrounding social withdrawal. Such delays substantially impede the commencement of support.
*1 Cabinet Office survey (released on March 31, 2023: Survey on Children and Young People’s Consciousness and Lifestyle for Fiscal Year 2022)