Mental Health Nurse Training

SAGE Publishing

What do you sound like when taking care of a patient with suicidal thoughts?

The Brief

Sage Publishing, a global leader in educational and academic publishing, approached Bodyswaps with a view of exploring the potential of immersive technologies for education.

Working with Subject Matter Experts and Higher Education experts, SAGE identified a challenge in psychiatric nursing education : students needed a new way of practicing their soft skills and building their self-confidence before transitioning from the classroom to the hospital.

Our Approach


Our mission was to design an experiential learning format to help students nurses in psychiatry develop appropriate and confident patient care behaviour in a safe environment. 

Building on a body of research on virtual embodiment by the likes of Mel Slater's EventLab and Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, we opted for a body-swapping format. The experience, co-written with Dr. Sue Barker from Cardiff University, recreates a realistic interaction between a Community Mental Health Nurse and Susan, a patient with severe clinical depression. 

In this immersive role-play exercise, the user successively embodies the nurse and the patient to build empathy, practice adapting to a particular patient's situation and develop self-awareness.

What The Research Says

As part of a research project led by Alice Jane, a small sample of students from UCL’s MedTech Society had the opportunity to experience the Susan Project.

The study's aim was to measure the effect of virtual embodiment on participants’ self-reported empathy, self-awareness and likelihood to change their behaviour in future similar situations.

Detailed methodology and results can be found here.

What's Next

The experience has been piloted by SAGE Publishing across multiple universities in the US since Q3/Q4 2019.


Technical Development mBryonic

Lead SME Dr. Sue Barker



CHEST partners with Bodyswaps to Develop Immersive Modules for Improved Patient Care and Trust Building


Find out how CHEST and Bodyswaps worked together to create two immersive modules that permit learners to practically apply their knowledge of the First 5 Minute Program ® in an immersive setting.

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