Photo credit:  Monobanda/Mimicry

Immerse UK teamed up with Barclays Eagle Labs for a free webinar on 10 September to explore the potential of XR to spark a new approach to emotional intelligence and mental wellbeing in children.


About this webinar

ADHD, behaviour problems, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. By intervening early with innovative, enjoyable, accessible tools that empower people to improve their wellbeing in childhood, there is the potential to address and resolve challenges before they grow into long term issues later in life.

This webinar will explore how immersive technology is using storytelling and play to unlock new skills for emotional regulation, and creating new forms of understanding and empathy around the challenges of mental health. Join us as we bring together academia, art and science to find out about cutting edge research, groundbreaking new startups and how the new normal could spark a playful new approach to emotional intelligence and mental wellbeing.

Panellists include:

  • Dr Sarah Campbell
  • Naomi Mwasambili | Co-founder & CEO | Chanua
  • Niki Smit | Co-founder | Monobanda
  • Dr Jessica Stone
  • Sarah Ticho | Healthcare Lead | Immerse UK (moderator)


Speaker biographies

Dr Sarah Campbell
Dr Sarah Campbell has 15 years experience working in wellbeing and education, including publishing work on immersive experiences as learning contexts. Having had a previous career both as a musician and on the business side of the music industry, Sarah has integrated creative industry and arts-based approaches to facilitation, training and educating throughout her career, more recently using game-based learning approaches. Sarah has designed and delivered immersive and multi-sensory game experiences at festivals, such as Green Man and the Arts and Science festival at the Barbican. She has co-founded a successful wellbeing app, worked on games to help children manage chronic health conditions, consults at an engineering institute and conducts interdisciplinary research for the Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey, which carries out new media innovation projects with social and cultural benefits. After completing her PhD in psychology, she founded Play Well For Life, an educational games company that creates engaging online and offline games to help children learn the skills they need to succeed in life, facilitating children and parents connecting and learning through play.

Naomi Mwasambili, Chanua
Naomi is the co-founder and CEO of Chanua, an innovation agency specialising in healthcare and educational innovations and Director at Livy Africa focusing on eco innovation projects in Tanzania. For 12 years Naomi has been working in the area of social innovation, inclusive business, healthcare, mental health, technology and research. Starting her career in research, she has worked as a clinician in the NHS and more recently been focused on service and product design in digital healthcare. She has taken innovations from an idea and scaled them to reach a range of different groups.

Inspired to bring more play into her healthcare work she has been applying gamification within training and digital health products she has been developing. Her team at Chanua have developed a range of products and services embedding play, gamification and technology in areas of health, mental health and enterprise development and an example of this can be seen through their Neuro Champions programme training young leaders in areas of the Brain and Mental Health through immersive training, play and technology.

They have recently been leading the Covid response in the UK supported by the UK government with their innovation supporting young people with their mental health and physical wellbeing.

She is a Wellcome Trust public engagement awardee, was principal investigator on a NewMinds EPRSC funded research project and co-led the UK implementation of Hacking Health part of a Global Network of Healthcare innovators. She gives back to entrepreneurs through her role as Entrepreneur in Residence at London South Bank University, Fab Lab resident focusing on industry 4.0 technologies at Liverpool John Moores University and as a trustee at the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Niki Smit, Monobanda
Niki Smit is a game designer, artist and teacher. He is the co-founder of Monobanda, a Utrecht based Interactive Art collective that develops playful interactive experiences. He is also the co-founder of Explore Deep – an award-winning meditative virtual reality experience, controlled by breathing. Developed in collaboration with the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab, Radboud University, Netherlands, they have spent the last few years clinically validating the experience whilst touring to arts and mental health festivals around the world. The experience has been used in a variety of clinical settings including staff wellbeing at Torbay Hospital during the coronavirus pandemic, and Vienna hospital to explore how it can be applied to respiratory issues. Niki aims to explore and expand the boundaries of games and interaction and focuses heavily on researching and developing new forms of play and meaningful interactivity.

Dr Jessica Stone

Jessica Stone, Ph.D., RPT-S, is a licensed psychologist working in a private practice setting in Colorado. She has been a practitioner, professor, presenter, mentor, and author for more than 25 years. Dr. Stone’s interest in therapeutic digital tools, specifically using virtual reality, tablets, and consoles, has culminated in clinical mental health use and research for mental health, medical, and crisis settings. She is the co-creator of the Virtual Sandtray App for iPad (VSA) and the Virtual Sandtray for Virtual Reality (VSA-VR). Dr. Stone has numerous publications to date including Integrating Technology into Modern Therapies, Game Play, Digital Play Therapy, and Play Therapy Perspectives and numerous chapters in a variety of books. She has served as the president of the California Association for Play Therapy branch, the Leadership Academy chair, the Association for Play Therapy Nominations committee, and is a member of the AutPlay Advisory Board.

Sarah Ticho, Immerse UK

Sarah has spent her career working across the interdisciplinary arts, academia, healthcare and immersive technology as a producer, curator and researcher. She is the founder of Hatsumi, a research and design studio that works at the intersection of arts, health and immersive technology to develop experiences that challenge how we think and feel about the world and imagine the future of health and wellbeing. They are developing Body Map – a virtual reality adaptation of an arts and health research method called body mapping. By enabling people to communicate the embodied lived experience of pain and mental health conditions through 3D drawing, this experience is contributing to a new paradigm in diagnostics, research and pain management.

Sarah is a freelance producer with Explore Deep, a meditative breath controlled virtual reality experience controlled by breathing. Developed in collaboration with the Games for Emotional and Mental Health Lab, Raboud University, extensive research has demonstrated its efficacy as a tool to help manage anxiety, and reduce disruptive classroom behaviour in students with complex needs.
Sarah is the healthcare lead at Immerse UK, supporting researchers, artists, startups and healthcare organisations to connect, collaborate and collectively create a future for virtual reality in healthcare. She is a member of the Animation, Simulation and Visualisation Strategic Investment Area (SIA) Advisory Board at Bournemouth University and the Medical XR Council for the XR Safety Initiative. In her spare time, she is training to become a death doula, an emotional support to people going through the end of life process.

In partnership with Barclays Eagle Labs

Barclays Eagle Labs logo
Barclays Eagle Labs begun from a simple idea of re-purposing under-used Barclays’s space, our network of Eagle Labs has expanded quickly since our launch in 2015. Our mission is to fuel the UK’s entrepreneurial community by accelerating high-growth businesses through collaborative innovation and provide access to emerging technologies. @eagle_labs_hlth