24 April 2019

People affected by Grenfell are being encouraged to open up about their mental health through a series of new virtual reality films featuring former England striker Les Ferdinand.

The films, which are on the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service website, feature Les talking about his thoughts, emotions and body sensations in the moments before his debut for England as well as a 360 discussion about coping strategies and stigma.

The films are available here:  https://grenfellwellbeing.com/vr/ and are designed to inspire people to learn more about the skill of mindfulness, which supports physical and psychological health.

Clinical Psychologist Dr Helen Sinclair is a co-creator of the project, which was filmed by The Fred Company.

She said the idea stemmed from seeing how immersive technology can be used to disrupt and establish new ways of learning and improving psychological health.

“When people have been through a traumatic incident, sometimes present triggers can cause their minds and bodies to respond as though the distressing event is happening again. Mindfulness is about increasing our awareness of these responses and then being able to compassionately choose how to respond, and this applies for everybody – not just those who have experienced trauma.

“These videos aim to share and normalise how our minds and bodies respond to these sensations, such as an increase in heart rate when going through something that’s anxiety provoking.

“You watch, and share with, Les how his mind and body prepare for his debut for England. He’s able to talk through what his mind was saying and the sensations he’s feeling. These sensations told him that he was where he needed to be based on the training he had done to get there.

“The purpose of filming the discussions in 360 is to allow you to join the conversation, rather than just watching it. Research suggests that 360 films, through their immersive nature, allow the content to feel more personal. We want people to hear and feel that they’re not alone if they’re struggling with psychological difficulties,” she said.