Jolly Good, Otsuka team up on VR-based therapy for mental disorders

Advanced virtual reality video technology maker Jolly Good and Otsuka Pharmaceutical have teamed up to develop an SST (social skills training) that uses VR for a variety of mental disorders and the creation of new platforms.

Jolly Good has already deployed SST VR for developmental disorders at over 200 hospitals, clinics, welfare support centres, and other such facilities across Japan.

Through this partnership, Jolly Good will provide the VR goggles and tablet devices and will produce SST VR content for a range of scenarios in conjunction with Otsuka. Otsuka will compensate Jolly Good for sales activities aimed at healthcare facilities and will pay Jolly Good sales-based royalties. 

If including a 3000-millon-yen upfront payment from Otsuka to Jolly Good, as well as development cost reimbursement and royalties, the deal is worth 5 billion yen or about US$40 million.

Considering scholarly reports that have cited the combined use of pharmacotherapy and SST as a psychotherapeutic method that reduces mental disorder recurrence rates, Jolly Good’s immersive SST VR is expected to help patients concentrate better and improve effectiveness. 

Ayako Kanie, a psychiatric specialist and senior medical supervisor, will be content production manager for Jolly Good’s VR business.

Kanie said that along with suppressing symptoms, “self-actualisation beyond therapy” is becoming an additional goal of therapy for treating mental disorders such as schizophrenia.  

She said that currently, there is a serious shortage of people who have the STT and other attributes necessary to provide “psychosocial therapy.”

“Our VR content development benefits from extensive involvement by psychiatrists in product design and aims to improve on and expand opportunities to provide psychosocial therapy according to medical theory,” said Kanie.

VR enables patients to practice in a nearly-real environment and will prepare them for success in real-life situations,” she added.  “This pursuit will pave the way to enabling anyone to acquire psychosocial skills.”

Jolly Good CEO Kensuke Joji said that through the partnership with Otsuka, they will develop a social contribution platform powered by VR technology while further expanding its business.

Makoto Inoue, president and representative director of Otsuka said that technological advancements have seen a growing importance placed not just medications but also on support for daily living, which includes everything from prevention to caregiving.  

“Along with putting to use digital technologies that will go into the creation of a new business model, we will work with Jolly Good, which supports healthcare via state-of-the-art VR video technologies, to build a platform for facilitating social rehabilitation among those suffering from mental or neurological disorders,” said Inoue.