We partnered with Rare Beauty’s Rare Impact in October of 2020 to open a call for immersive experiences that address mental health and well-being. This challenge was designed to underscore the powerful role that real-time 3D can play in supporting the world’s mental health landscape. Today, we are proud to introduce the winning projects: Apart of Me and What It’s Like to Be Me.
Creators from around the world submitted to the Unity for Humanity Rare Impact Challenge, sharing powerful stories and experiences using RT3D to support mental health and well-being. Fueled by their personal experiences and connections to underserved populations, the submissions powerfully illustrated how RT3D can raise awareness for, normalize mental health conversations, reduce barriers for treatment, and increase access to mental health support. We were floored by all of the incredible work creators are doing, and are proud to introduce the two Rare Impact Challenge winners, Apart of Me and What It’s Like To be Me.
Read on to learn how these projects are supporting the mental health of critically underserved communities: tackling the unprecedented grief in adolescents exacerbated by the pandemic, and the unique stressors that make members of the LGBTQ+ community 3-4 times more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Designed by experts in grief, Apart of Me is a mobile game that helps young people and their families navigate through the heartbreak and confusion of grief. The game guides users through a beautiful, calming 3D world built to provide a safe space for making sense of loss, remembering loved ones, and connecting to wisdom shared by other youth who have experienced the loss of a loved one. By introducing powerful practices, including self-compassion, creativity, and community, young people discover new ways to live fully despite their losses.
The global pandemic has brought on immeasurable loss. Apart of Me Co-Founder, Louis Weinstock, noted that “when we launched this app a couple of years ago, little did we know how badly our app would be needed today. Sadly, this pandemic has left over 4 million children and young people around the world grieving for loved ones.” With the Unity for Humanity Rare Impact Challenge award, this team will be able to expand their reach and meet the growing demand for the app.
Apart of Me works in partnership with Child Bereavement organizations in the UK including Child Bereavement UK, Grief Encounter, and Winstons Wish. Download the free Apart of Me app from the Google Play and Apple App stores here.
What It’s Like to Be Me is a VR experience that invites users to understand what it can be like for members of the LGBTQ+ community confronting stress in their everyday life brought on by negative attitudes about their sexual and/or gender identities. What It’s Like to Be Me is about witnessing and engaging with the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals as they navigate the world to recognize the mental, emotional, and physical strain, and also the resilience and strength developed through their experiences. This project validates common stories in the LGBTQ+ community to provide a source of comfort in knowing community members are not alone, and that happiness and joy are still possible.
This project was created by two social scientists, Marc Svensson and Kate Luxion, who are completing their PhDs focused on LGBTQ+ mental health and minority stress at University College London (UCL). The LGBTQ+ identifying team behind the project believe that, “the most efficient way to improve mental health in our community and help LGBTQ+ people live happier lives is to educate the general population about the issues we are facing, as a community and as individuals. With education and improved understanding comes acceptance, inclusion, and empathy.” Kate Luxion, explains that the experience is “built around five true-life stories. Users are immersed in their experiences in the hope that more people understand what it’s like to experience and work through prejudice, discrimination, and stigma as an LGBTQ+ person,”
With the grant funding, the team will complete the project, sharing the first 5 VR stories. Ultimately What It's Like To Be Me will become an integral part of the training workshops run by Helsa, the company Marc Svensson founded in July 2019 to be a digital platform for LGBTQ+ mental health support and training. Helsa offers extensive helpful resources for the LGBTQ community, including research, training, and support.
Created with Rare Beauty’s Rare Impact, this challenge is a part of the existing Unity for Humanity Program within Unity Social Impact, which celebrates and empowers creators who are using real-time 3D to inspire change. If you are using real-time 3D to build environment-focused content, consider submitting to the Environment & Sustainability grant by June 3. Join the Social Impact Mailing List to stay up-to-date on these projects, upcoming grant opportunities, and more.