We met in the TARDIS: Zillah was commissioner for the BBC’s Dr Who VR experience, and Katie led Passion Animation’s team creating the project. Just how well we worked together was immediately clear: the show premiered at Tribeca in 2018, won an Emmy nomination, and delighted audiences at over 170 public libraries around the UK..
Two years later, Covid hit. Our children, our friends' children and the students we teach were all deeply affected. The impact on their generation’s mental health has been significant. We’ve seen too many young people suffer: waiting lists for therapy are long and antidepressants the only current alternative.
We knew VR could provide a radical new solution. So we worked with Ursula James, a brilliant clinical hypnotherapist, who has taught a stress management course to medical students for years, and consultant psychiatrist Dr Aileen O’Brien, who is Dean for students at St George’s Medical School, London.
Phase Space was born, with a revolutionary approach honed by our collective ability, experience and vision. And we know from our own experience that there is a clear, addressable market to target - and a huge societal problem for us to help fix.
We brought together a brilliant team of trusted problem solvers from our extensive network - including Owain Rich, a visionary developer and former innovation lead for global broadcasters; and Russell Mulchansingh, former innovation lead for Nokia and Cancer Research, and designer of the British Airways first class seat.
Phase Space has now secured a Mindset grant from UKRI Innovate UK, as well as funding from SFC Capital, to fund future product development. Now St George’s, University of London, will be trialling Phase Space as a solution to the student mental health crisis, focused on reducing student stress before exams.
This follows a feasibility study in July 2022 at St George’s which had overwhelmingly positive results, with students showing statistically significant increases in happiness and calmness and decreases in depression, stress and anxiety.
We are also working with the brilliant Sylvia Pan and Marco Gillies, both professors of virtual reality in the computing department at Goldsmiths.
We’re excited about the chance to make a real difference to the mental health crisis that we see all around us. And we have the professionalism, the ideas and the beginning of the funding to develop our product and take it to market.