The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience, based in Second Life, is an immersive, interactive learning experience designed to educate visitors about combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It includes a simulation demonstrating how PTSD may be acquired during a combat-related traumatic event, including an explanation of the connections between danger cues and triggers, the role of avoidance in the development of PTSD, and how PTSD is a normal human response to traumatic events. Additionally, this environment includes simulations of PTSD symptoms, helping the visitor learn through interactive activities how PTSD symptoms may show up in a person's life. Finally, the environment includes information to help visitors determine whether they or a loved one is in need of care, and how to access that care whether a DoD or VA beneficiary.
Multiple researchers have declared traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder to be the “signature wounds” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent Rand report found that approximately 19% of all Service Members returning from combat theater screen positive for psychological health problems, and of those that screen positive, slightly more than half seek psychological health services. Multiple barriers prevent Service Members from seeking information about psychological health issues and mental health care, including perceived stigma, physical access barriers, and limited resources.
A number of web-based resources aim to educate about post-deployment psychological health issues. Many of these are rich with useful information in the form of text content written by experts, video interviews of other Service Members dealing with similar issues, self-assessment screening tools, self-help exercises, and information regarding accessing care. And while these are great resources, they are also limited with regards to the experience that they can provide to visitors.
The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience aims to be one answer to these limitations. By being based in Second Life, the T2 Virtual PTSD Experience will be available to anyone with a basic Second Life account, which is available free of charge. Once opened, there is no need for registration or requests for access, allowing for anonymous access any time of day. The experience is presented as a self-guided exploration, thus eliminating the need for live staffing, while still allowing for real-time interaction between visitors. Visitors can access this information from the comfort of their home, or anywhere that they have broadband internet access, thus reducing perceived stigma and/or physical access barriers of a brick-and-mortar clinic. But perhaps more importantly, by providing an immersive experience, the T2 Virtual PTSD Experience can serve as a significant adjunct to 2D web-based resources, improving learning through doing rather than merely reading about or watching a video about post-deployment issues. Please note that Second Life is not approved on most government networks. Federal employees who wish to experience the environment will need to do so through other network connections.
If you do not already have a Second Life account, please follow the steps below to create a new, free avatar for Second Life.
- Visit the Second Life main page at http://secondlife.com and click on the "Join Now" button (usually orange and displayed prominently on the landing page).
- Choose one of the pre-fabricated avatars from the selections offered. Don’t worry. You can change your avatar’s appearance later once logged in to Second Life. For now, you are just choosing a starting point.
- Choose an account name, and check it for availability. This is how your avatar will be known in Second Life, so choose wisely. You can set a “display name” (including a first and last name) for your avatar profile once you are logged in to Second Life.
- Once you have selected an available account name, you will be asked for some additional information, including your email address (enter a working email address), date of birth (for security authentication purposes, such as if you forget your password), password, and a security questions and answer. When you log in to Second Life, you will be required to enter your account name and your password.
- Click the “Create Account” button at the bottom of the screen.
- You may receive an email at the address you provide above asking you to click on a link to activate your account. If necessary, click the link and follow the instructions to activate your account.
Download and Install Second Life Viewer:
- If you are creating a new avatar, once your account is created you will be directed to download a Second Life viewer. For best viewing experience, we recommend installing the most current version of the standard Second Life viewer. (note: Some third party viewers are available to access Second Life, each with specific strengths and limitations. The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience has been optimized for the most current version of the standard Second Life viewer.)
- To ensure that your system meets Second Life’s system requirements, please visit the system requirements page.
- Once the Second Life Viewer is installed on your computer, launch the application and sign in using your avatar name and your password.
- Linden Labs provides orientation and basic skills training for new users. If you are new to Second Life, seriously consider completing this training. You may find it helpful to download the Second Life Quickstart Guide. It explains how to complete some of the most common tasks in Second Life.
- To find the T2 Virtual PTSD Experience, start Second Life and sign in as above, then click here to be teleported. Alternatively, you can search for the environment using the in-world search tool using “PTSD Experience” as the search term. Or you can type T2 PTSD Education in the address bar in the Second Life Viewer.
Afghan Market Place
(PTSD Acquisition Simulation)
Cascade Valley Mall
(PTSD Symptoms Simulation)
Courage Theater showing
“A Different Kind of Courage” Video
Self Help Web Resources Gazebo
Accessing Care Offices
(How to access live professional care)
T2 Conference Center
Virtual Meeting Venue)
National Center for Telehealth and Technology