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Jewel thinks the metaverse could be a mental health tool

Bad graphics, great goals

Innerworld - A character in the Innerworld metaverse enjoying some words of affirmation Image: Innerworld
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Singer and songwriter Jewel has created a comforting camp in the unexpected venue of the metaverse, and it’s not what you might expect. Jewel is the co-founder of Innerworld, a virtual reality-based wellness center. It’s meant as a curated social experience, accessible with an anonymous avatar, that could be an alternative or augmentation to traditional talk therapy.

Innerworld can be accessed via the Meta Quest or without virtual reality on Mac, PC, iPad, or iPhone. It is a free service, but extra features like unlimited group sessions are available starting at $8 a month. “Everyone has an avatar, and there’s a live guide, and there’s constant peer-to-peer programming based on established cognitive behavioral methods,” Jewel told People magazine. “If you’re acutely triggered, you can log into Innerworld,” said Jewel.

It’s a little wild to see metaverse characters, represented by a head, torso, and bobbing set of hands, showing up in a virtual space to work on their mental health. Users have access to a private living room, or a community center based around a cozy fire pit.

“You can say to the guide, ‘My pet just died. I’m really sad. What do you recommend?’ And then they can pull up a visual tool, like the grief cycle, and you can talk about it with the guide, or you can talk to other community members,” said Jewel. Innerworld also runs classes to work on life skills and mental health issues.

Since opening in 2022, Innerworld has hosted 20,000 users. The metaverse experience is designed to be as accessible as possible, and while the visuals look a little goofy, it’s a welcome relief from the usual flood of advertisements and real estate offers that seem to accompany projects in the metaverse.

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