Mental Health IT Roundup—23andMe studying depression; virtual reality and apps for therapy; telepsychiatry in schools

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Virtual reality provides a new way to treat anxiety.

23andMe launches depression study

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing company 23andMe is recruiting 25,000 people for a new study to understand how a person’s genetic makeup can play a role in certain mental health conditions. The study, described by the company’s research manager as the “most intensive yet,” will include 15,000 people with major depressive disorder and 10,000 with bipolar disorder. (CNBC)

Therapists tap virtual reality for anxiety

Virtual reality technology is offering a new way for therapists to treat patients with anxiety by allowing them to revisit situations that are the source of particularly painful memories, like a car crash. Other methods include placing patients atop a skyscraper to get over their fear of heights or at a virtual bar to treat alcohol addiction. (New York Times)

Apps offer new opportunity for digital psychology

A growing number of smartphone apps could provide new pathways to treat psychiatric disorders like depression and schizophrenia. Research shows psychiatric patients can manage conditions through digital apps, although several challenges still remain regarding emotion sensing and engagement. (IEEE Spectrum)

New York schools offering telepsychiatry for kids

City schools across New York are offering telepsychiatry services to children thanks to dozens of state approvals aimed at bringing care directly to patients. The approach saves psychiatrist time traveling to schools, but some experts are worried it will create opportunities to overmedicate children. (Wall Street Journal)