Open Access Peer-reviewed Review

Virtual reality among children with mental disorders: A mini-review

Main Article Content

Marjan Rasoulian-Kasrineh
Seyyed-Mohammad Tabatabaei corresponding author


Background: Mental disorders are a group of disorders that affect thinking and behavior by causing discomfort or disability to the person. Almost one in eight people aged 5 to 19 deals with these kinds of disorders and his or her growth may be significantly affected. It seems that using novel technologies in such cases are helpful. One of these advanced technologies, which has recently attracted a lot of attention in many fields such as health, is Virtual Reality. Therefore, the present study aimed to provide a brief review about the use of Virtual Reality among children with mental disorders.
Methods: In this study, articles in which Virtual Reality were used among children dealing with mental disorders published during 2012 to 2021 were investigated. PsycINFO electronic databases, PubMed Google Scholar, Medline, were searched.
Results: Children deal with different types of mental disorders and Virtual Reality has been used for many of them. The most common of them, in which Virtual Reality have been used and caused improvements include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia Disorder, and Developmental Disability.
Discussion and conclusion: According to the results, Virtual Reality is a very interesting, useful, effective and safe technology for patients dealing with mental disorders especially children and adolescence. It is actually a highly specialized technology which can provide improvement, and in some cases completely new ways of treatment for children suffering from mental disorders.

mental disorders, virtual reality, children

Article Details

How to Cite
Rasoulian-Kasrineh, M., & Tabatabaei, S.-M. (2021). Virtual reality among children with mental disorders: A mini-review. Advances in Health and Behavior, 4(1), 177-181.


  1. Vasileva M, Graf RK, Reinelt T, et al. Research review: A meta-analysis of the international prevalence and comorbidity of mental disorders in children between 1 and 7 years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2021, 62(4): 372-381.
  2. Halldorsson B, Hill C, Waite P, et al. Annual Research Review: Immersive virtual reality and digital applied gaming interventions for the treatment of mental health problems in children and young people: the need for rigorous treatment development and clinical evaluation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2021, 62(5): 584-605.
  3. Botting N, Powls A, Cooke RW, et al. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders and other psychiatric outcomes in very low birthweight children at 12 years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1997, 38(8): 931-941.
  4. Sarraf-Razavi M, Tabatabaei SM, Talaei A, et al. Application of Virtual Reality for Helping People with Psychiatric Disorders: A Mini Review. Landscape, 2019, 109(3): 395-417.
  5. Burke SM. The Use of Technology by Adolescents With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Journal of pediatric nursing, 2017, 37: 134-135.
  6. Donath L, R¨ossler R and Faude O. Effects of virtual reality training (exergaming) compared to alternative exercise training and passive control on standing balance and functional mobility in healthy community-dwelling seniors: a meta-analytical review. Sports medicine, 2016, 46(9): 1293- 1309.
  7. Tabatabaei M and Talaei A. Virtual Reality as a Friend of the Elderly: A Mini-Review. Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research, 2019, 22(2): 16517-16519.
  8. Aziz HA. Virtual reality programs applications in healthcare. Journal of Health & Medical Informatics, 2018, 9(1): 305.
  9. Rizzo A, Thomas Koenig S and Talbot TB. Clinical results using virtual reality. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 2019, 37(1): 51-74.
  10. Cortese S, Panei P, Arcieri R, et al. Safety of methylphenidate and atomoxetine in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): data from the Italian National ADHD Registry. CNS drugs, 2015, 29(10): 865-877.
  11. Eom H, Kim K, Lee S, et al. Development of virtual reality continuous performance test utilizing social cues for children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2019, 22(3): 198-204.
  12. Fang Y and Dai Han HL. A virtual reality application for assessment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in school-aged children. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2019, 15: 1517.
  13. Laws G, Briscoe J, Ang S, et al. Child neuropsychology: a journal on normal and abnormal development in childhood and adolescence. Child Neuropsychology: A Journal on Normal and Abnormal Development in Childhood and Adolescence, 2014.
  14. Rodr´ıguez C, Areces D, Garc´ıa T, et al. Comparison between two continuous performance tests for identifying ADHD: Traditional vs. virtual reality. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 2018, 18(3): 254-263.
  15. Parsons TD, Duffield T and Asbee J. A comparison of virtual reality classroom continuous performance tests to traditional continuous performance tests in delineating ADHD: a meta-analysis. Neuropsychology Review, 2019, 29(3): 338-356.
  16. Bandelow B, Michaelis S and Wedekind D. Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 2017, 19(2): 93.
  17. Str¨ohle A, Gensichen J and Domschke K. The diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders. Deutsches A¨ rzteblatt International, 2018, 115(37): 611.
  18. Anderson PL, Edwards SM and Goodnight JR. Virtual reality and exposure group therapy for social anxiety disorder: Results from a 4-6 year follow-up. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 2017, 41(2): 230-236.
  19. Bouchard S, Dumoulin S, Robillard G, et al. Virtual reality compared with in vivo exposure in the treatment of social anxiety disorder: a three-arm randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2017, 210(4): 276-283.
  20. Cie´slik B, Mazurek J, Rutkowski S, et al. Virtual reality in psychiatric disorders: A systematic review of reviews. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2020, 52: 102480.
  21. Maples-Keller JL, Yasinski C, Manjin N, et al. Virtual reality-enhanced extinction of phobias and post-traumatic stress. Neurotherapeutics, 2017, 14(3): 554-563.
  22. Owens ME and Beidel DC. Can virtual reality effectively elicit distress associated with social anxiety disorder? Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 2015, 37(2): 296-305.
  23. Van Loon A, Bailenson J, Zaki J, et al. Virtual reality perspective-taking increases cognitive empathy for specific others. PloS One, 2018, 13(8): e0202442.
  24. Alsem SC, van Dijk A, Verhulp EE, et al. Using virtual reality to treat aggressive behavior problems in children: A feasibility study. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2021: 13591045211026160.
  25. Dixon DR, Miyake CJ, Nohelty K, et al. Evaluation of an immersive virtual reality safety training used to teach pedestrian skills to children with autism spectrum disorder. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 2019: 1-10.
  26. Hu T, Dong Y, He C, et al. The gut microbiota and oxidative stress in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2020.
  27. Ghanouni P, Jarus T, Zwicker JG, et al. Social stories for children with autism spectrum disorder: Validating the content of a virtual reality program. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2019, 49(2): 660-668.
  28. Ip HH, Wong SW, Chan DF, et al. Enhance emotional and social adaptation skills for children with autism spectrum disorder: A virtual reality enabled approach. Computers & Education, 2018, 117: 1-15.
  29. Lorenzo G, Lled´o A, Pomares J, et al. Design and application of an immersive virtual reality system to enhance emotional skills for children with autism spectrum disorders. Computers & Education, 2016, 98: 192-205.
  30. Li WH, Chung JO and Ho EK. The effectiveness of therapeutic play, using virtual reality computer games, in promoting the psychological well-being of children hospitalised with cancer. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2011, 20(15-16): 2135-2143.
  31. Lin AJ, Cheng F and Chen CB. (Editors). Use of virtual reality games in people with depression and anxiety. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Multimedia and Image Processing, 2020.
  32. Gottesman II. Schizophrenia genesis: The origins of madness: WH Freeman/Times Books/Henry Holt & Co, 1991.
  33. Park MJ, Kim DJ, Lee U, et al. A literature overview of virtual reality (VR) in treatment of psychiatric disorders: recent advances and limitations. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2019, 10: 505.
  34. Rus-Calafell M, Guti´errez-Maldonado J and Ribas-Sabat´e J. A virtual reality-integrated program for improving social skills in patients with schizophrenia: a pilot study. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 2014, 45(1): 81-89.
  35. du Sert OP, Potvin S, Lipp O, et al. Virtual reality therapy for refractory auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia: a pilot clinical trial. Schizophrenia Research, 2018, 197: 176-181.
  36. Rus-Calafell M, Garety P, Sason E, et al. Virtual reality in the assessment and treatment of psychosis: a systematic review of its utility, acceptability and effectiveness. Psychological Medicine, 2018, 48(3): 362-391.
  37. Zablotsky B, Black LI and Blumberg SJ. Estimated prevalence of children with diagnosed developmental disabilities in the United States (2014-2016), 2017.
  38. Zablotsky B, Black LI, Maenner MJ, et al. Prevalence and trends of developmental disabilities among children in the United States: 2009-2017. Pediatrics, 2019, 144(4): e20190811.
  39. Gelsomini M, Garzotto F, Montesano D, et al. Wildcard: A wearable virtual reality storytelling tool for children with intellectual developmental disability. 2016 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), IEEE, 2016.
  40. Krysta K, Krzystanek M, Cubała WJ, et al. Telepsychiatry and virtual reality in the treatment of patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Psychiatria Danubina, 2017, 29(3): 656-659.
  41. Muneer R, Saxena T and Karanth P. Virtual reality games as an intervention for children: A pilot study. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 2015, 26(3): 77-96.
  42. Atasavun Uysal S and Baltaci G. Effects of Nintendo WiiTM training on occupational performance, balance, and daily living activities in children with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy: A single-blind and randomized trial. Games for Health Journal, 2016, 5(5): 311-317.