Frequently Asked Questions
You Have A Village is an anonymous, online, avatar-based parent support group that is moderated by mental health professionals. Parents receive support, resources, and guidance at their convenience in a safe virtual community setting.
Virtual reality (VR) environments have been shown to be effective for healthcare, mental health treatment, and peer support groups. VR environments enable participants to communicate with each other in real time through avatars. YHAV will allow parents to learn from one another about how they are managing their children’s mental health needs.
The YHAV Parent Pilot Program will take place over the course of a month. Parents will be asked to visit this virtual space at least 2 times per week or the equivalent of one hour over the course of the week. Parents will be encouraged to enter the space daily, and to spend as many as 2-3 hours total in the space. Parents will be asked to: (1) enter the space to meet and converse with other parents spontaneously, and (2) attend at least one topic-specific expertly-moderated group over the course of the month.
An avatar is a computer-generated virtual character that you can name, dress, and control with just a few keystrokes. Parents can log into a PC or Mac computer or laptop and create an avatar that participates in groups and discussions with other parents and mental health experts. This allows parents to remain anonymous yet feel connected.
It is often hard to find threads and stay on top of questions and topics in non-synchronous online forums. Engaging in a platform as an avatar in a mutual space allows for a feeling of being present with others and is more similar to in-person interactions in the real world than text-based chat rooms.
This environment allows for a level of anonymity not otherwise available in other parent support group models today. Some parents fear the stigma associated with “outing” their kids or are reluctant to tell other parents about their child’s mental health needs. Through the use of a non-identifiable avatar, participants feel more open to disclose emotions.
The platform is moderated by expert mental health professionals to ensure credible parenting information.
Therapy is wonderful for 1:1 interactions but does not offer peer support. It does not make you feel connected or “less alone”
Online group therapy programs, while potentially helpful, tend to offer only a single type of intervention—and not provide support across multiple topics and mental health areas.
The avatar platform will offer flexible drop-in hours that are convenient to parents and can be accessed from the comfort of your home.